Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears rinse away any small particles caught in the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears guard the eyes from microorganisms that are sometimes found in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes lack sufficient tears, symptoms can be present such as persistent feelings of dryness, stinging, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, dry eyes often can cause watery eyes in an attempt to compensate for inadequate tearing.
There are a number of causes of dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, particularly women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also result from certain medicines such as diuretics, beta blockers, birth control pills or others. Climate that is especially dusty, or indoor dry heating or air conditioning are also known triggers. In addition, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in tear production, excessive use of the computer or use of contact lenses can cause dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye symptoms may be alleviated by using lubricating eye drops to add moisture. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to get and how to use them. If non-prescription options aren’t working you may need Rx drops that enhance tear production.
In more serious cases, your eye care professional might suggest Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that periodically lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You may also want to try lacrimal plugs which help the eye stay moist by restricting tears from draining too quickly. Some eye care professionals may recommend ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to alleviate the symptoms as well.
In most cases, dry eyes will not result in any permanent harm but can be a discomfort. Nevertheless, severe dry eyes could make you more at risk of infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your eye doctor.
Especially during the winter, it would help to make every effort to safeguard your eyes from arid air, biting winds and dust. Wearing sunglasses when going outdoors, and trying out humidifiers indoors 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 schedule a visit to your eye doctor right away!