Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears flush any dust or particles out of the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate bacteria that are present in the eye on occasion.
When the eyes have insufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as persistent feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes cause eyes to water excessively as the eyes try to defend against inadequate tearing.
Dry eyes are caused by a several reasons. One factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also be a side effect of a number of medicines. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation can also be the cause. In addition, certain systemic diseases or problems with producing tears, excessive computer use or contact lens wear can result in dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved by using lubricating eye drops to put moisture back into the eye. Your eye doctor can instruct you which eye drops to get and how to use them. If over the counter options don’t help your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually enhance tear production.
If artificial tears aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually releases lubricants at various intervals. Another option might be punctual plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by inhibiting tears from draining too quickly. Some eye doctors will suggest you try ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to lessen the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes will not result in any permanent damage but can be an annoyance. However, very serious dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is a good idea to consult with your eye doctor.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your optometrist as soon as possible!