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 guard the eyes from bacteria that can be found in the eye.
When the eyes do not produce adequate amounts of tears, symptoms can result such as persistent feelings of dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, sometimes dry eyes cause watery eyes if the eyes over-stimulate tear production to defend against dryness.
Dry eyes are a result of a several factors. One 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 side effect of many medications. Dry or dusty air, and excessive heating or air conditioning can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or problems with tear production, excessive computer use which can cause insufficient blinking, or usage of contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye symptoms can often be improved with the use of artificial tears to reduce dryness. Your eye doctor can show 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 stimulate your eyes 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 lubricants at various intervals. Another option could be punctual plugs which help the eye stay lubricated by reducing the let down of tears. Some eye doctors will recommend ways for you to change your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
For the majority of individuals, dry eye syndrome will not result in any permanent harm but can be a nuisance. Nevertheless, severe dry eyes could make you more susceptible to infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your eye doctor.
If you are feeling dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so visit your eye doctor right away!