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Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that are sometimes present in the eye.
When the eyes do not produce sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant dryness, burning, scratchiness or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically, sometimes dry eyes can cause watery eyes to try to combat inadequate tearing.
Dry eyes are a result of a number of reasons. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medications including diuretics, antidepressants, birth control pills or others. Environmental conditions that are windy, or indoor dry heating or air conditioning can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, extended use of the computer or contact lens usage can contribute to dry eyes.
The first treatment option is usually lubricating eye drops which often work to reduce dryness. Your eye doctor can tell you which eye drops to get and how to use them. If over the counter drops don’t help your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that stimulate tear production.
If eye drops don’t help, your optometrist might recommend Lacrisert, which is inserted into the eyelid and continually lets out lubricants at various intervals. Another option might be punctual plugs which help the eye stay lubricated by reducing the let down of tears. Some optometrists may recommend ways for you to adapt your environment and your diet to alleviate the symptoms as well.
In most cases, dry eye syndrome will not damage your eyes permanently but can be a nuisance. Although, severe cases could make you more vulnerable to infection so it is worthwhile to speak to your optometrist.
Especially during the wintertime, it would help to try to safeguard your eyes from dryness, cold winds and irritants. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and making use of humidifiers indoors when the heat is blasting may be helpful.
If you are suffering from symptoms of dry eye syndrome contact your optometrist right away!