Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse away any small particles that may be in the eye and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that protect the eyes from microorganisms that are present in the eye on occasion.
When the eyes lack sufficient tears, symptoms can be present such as constant dryness, burning, itching or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, dry eyes often cause watery eyes in an attempt to combat inadequate tearing.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by a several reasons. The first factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, and often women going through menopause. Reduction in tear production can be a side effect of many medicines including antihistamines, beta blockers, birth control pills among others. Environmental conditions that are especially dusty, or dry heat or air circulation can also be the cause. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, excessive computer use or usage of contact lenses can cause dry eyes.
The first treatment option is usually artificial tears which work by putting moisture back into the eye. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If over the counter options don’t help you may need Rx drops that enhance tear production.
If artificial tears aren’t helpful, your optometrist might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually lets out lubricating ingredients during the day. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye maintain moisture by keeping tears from draining too quickly. Some eye doctors might suggest you try dietary or environmental modifications to alleviate discomfort.
For most individuals, dry eye syndrome does not affect your vision permanently but can be a nuisance. Although, very serious cases have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your eye doctor.
If you are feeling some of the symptoms listed above contact your eye doctor right away!