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Tears are an essential part of eye health. They wash 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.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce enough tears, symptoms can result such as constant feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. To the surprise of many, dry eyes often can cause eyes to water excessively as the eyes try to make up for inadequate tearing.
There are a number of causes of dry eyes. One factor is age as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women going through menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also be a side effect of a number of medicines. Environmental conditions that are dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also be factors. Additionally, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, extended computer use or usage of contact lenses can result in dry eyes.
The first treatment option is typically lubricating eye drops which often work to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your eye doctor can show you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription drops aren’t working your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually stimulate your body to make more tears.
In more serious cases, your optometrist might recommend Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually lets out moisturizing ingredients at various intervals. You might also want to try punctual plugs which help keep the eye moist by controlling the let down of tears. Some eye doctors will recommend ways for you to modify your environment and your diet to reduce the symptoms as well.
In most cases, dry eye syndrome will not result in any real harm but can be an annoyance. Nevertheless, very serious dry eyes could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your eye doctor.
Particularly in the winter months, you should to make sure to defend your eyes from dry, cold winds and particles. Using sunglasses when going outdoors, and using a humidifier indoors when the heat is blasting are ways to reduce exposure and dryness.
If you notice dry, itchy, burning eyes, it could be dry eye syndrome so make an appointment with your eye doctor today!