Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse the eye of any dust or particles and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate microorganisms that can be present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, sometimes dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against dryness.
There are several factors that contribute to dry eyes. The first factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, particularly women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a result of many medications. Climate that is particularly dry, or dry heat or air circulation are also known triggers. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual computer use which can limit blinking, or use of contact lenses can cause dry eyes.
The first treatment to try is usually lubricating eye drops which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your eye doctor can instruct you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If over the counter drops don’t help you may need prescription drops that enhance tear production.
For more severe cases, your eye doctor might suggest Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that lets out moisturizing ingredients during the day. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep the eye moist by reducing the drainage of tears. Some optometrists might recommend nutritional supplements or environmental adjustments to lessen discomfort.
In most cases, dry eyes do not affect your vision permanently but can be a nuisance. However, very serious cases could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is advised to consult with your optometrist.
If you are suffering from some of the symptoms listed above visit your optometrist as soon as possible!