Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse the eye of any dust or particles and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that protect the eyes from bacteria that can be present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes have insufficient tears, symptoms such as constant feelings of dryness, stinging, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation can present themselves. Ironically, sometimes dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to combat dryness.
A number of factors can contribute to dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of some medicines. Environmental conditions that are dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also be to blame. In addition, certain systemic diseases or problems with producing tears, continual use of the computer or contact lens wear can contribute to dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes can often be alleviated by using artificial tears to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s advisable to check with your eye doctor to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription options aren’t helpful your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production.
If lubricating drops don’t relieve your discomfort, your optometrist might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and continually releases lubricating ingredients at various intervals. Another option is lacrimal plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by restricting tears from draining too rapidly. Some eye care professionals will discuss a few ways for you to change your environment and your diet to alleviate discomfort.
For most individuals, dry eye syndrome does not affect your vision permanently but can be a discomfort. Although, very serious cases could make you more at risk of infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your eye doctor.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - make an appointment with your optometrist today!