Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They flush out any small particles caught in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that are occasionally found in the eye.
When the eyes do not produce adequate amounts of tears, symptoms can be present such as persistent dryness, stinging, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. To the surprise of many, occasionally dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to make up for dryness.
A number of factors can result in dry eyes. One factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women going through menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also result from certain medications. Climate that is particularly dusty, or dry heat or air circulation are also known to cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or problems with tear production, extended staring at a computer which can reduce blinking, or contact lens usage can result in dry eye syndrome.
The first treatment to try is usually lubricating eye drops which often work to reduce dryness. Your eye doctor can show you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription artificial tears aren’t helpful you may need Rx drops that actually help your body to make more tears.
If artificial tears aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and periodically releases moisturizing ingredients during the day. Another option is punctual plugs which help the eye stay moist by slowing the drainage of tears. Some eye care professionals will discuss a few dietary or environmental modifications to lessen the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eye syndrome will not result in any sustained harm but can be an annoyance. Nevertheless, very serious dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is advised to consult with your eye doctor.
Particularly during the cold season, it would help to make sure to safeguard your eyes from dryness, cold winds and dust. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and trying out humidifiers indoors when the heat is blasting are ways to reduce exposure and dryness.
You don’t have to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - contact your eye doctor right away!