Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate bacteria that are sometimes present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce enough tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of something in your eye. Ironically, occasionally dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to defend against dryness.
There are several causes of dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of several medications. Dry or dusty air, and indoor dry heating or air conditioning are also known causes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or problems with producing tears, extended staring at a computer or usage of contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
The preferred treatment to try is typically artificial tears which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. It’s advisable to speak with your optometrist to make sure you are using the right eye drops in the right way. If non-prescription artificial tears don’t help you may need Rx drops that help your eyes to make more tears.
In more serious cases, your eye care professional might recommend Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and periodically releases lubricants at various intervals. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep the eye moist by keeping tear flow at bay. Some eye doctors might discuss a few ways for you to change your environment and your diet to lessen the symptoms as well.
In most cases, dry eyes will not cause any permanent harm but can be a nuisance. Nevertheless, very serious cases could make you more at risk of infection so it is advised to speak to your eye doctor.
Particularly during the winter, it would help to make every effort to safeguard your eyes from arid air, cold winds and dust. Using sunglasses when outside, and using humidifiers inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - make an appointment with your optometrist right away!