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 can be present in the eye.
In instances where the eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant dryness, stinging, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes occasionally cause watery eyes as the eyes try to combat dryness.
Dry eyes can be a result of a number of reasons. One factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, particularly women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can be a side effect of many medicines including antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure pills as well as others. Dry or dusty air, and dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, prolonged computer use or usage of contact lenses can add to the chances of dry eyes.
The first treatment option is typically artificial tears which work by adding moisture. It’s recommended to consult with your optometrist to know which drops to purchase and how to use them. If over the counter drops aren’t working you may need prescription drops that stimulate your body to produce more tears.
If those don’t help, your eye care professional might want to try Lacrisert, which is inserted into the eyelid and periodically releases moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help keep moisture on the eye by reducing the let down of tears. Some eye doctors may recommend ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
For most individuals, dry eyes will not cause any sustained damage but can be a nuisance. Nevertheless, very serious dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is a good idea to consult with your optometrist.
Particularly during the winter, it is important to try to protect your eyes from dryness, biting winds and dust. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and trying out humidifiers inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.
If you are suffering from dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so make an appointment with your eye doctor right away!