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Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. Tears flush out any small particles that may be in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. They also contain enzymes that eliminate microorganisms that are found in the eye.
In instances where the eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant feelings of dryness, stinging, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. Ironically, dry eyes occasionally cause watery eyes to try to make up for dryness.
There are several causes of dry eyes. One factor is age since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production can also result from certain medicines such as diuretics, antidepressants, birth control pills as well as others. Dry or dusty air, and indoor dry heating or air conditioning are also known to cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, continual sitting in front of a computer screen which can cause insufficient blinking, or contact lens wear can add to the chances of dry eye syndrome.
The symptoms associated with dry eye syndrome may be relieved with artificial tears to add moisture. It’s a good idea to check with your eye doctor to know which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription artificial tears aren’t working your doctor might prescribe Rx drops that actually stimulate your body to make more tears.
If artificial tears don’t relieve your discomfort, your eye doctor might opt for Lacrisert, which is inserted into the eyelid and continually releases lubricants during the day. Another option might be punctual plugs which help keep the eye moist by reducing the drainage of tears. Some eye doctors may recommend nutritional supplements or environmental changes to lessen discomfort.
For most individuals, dry eye syndrome does not cause any real harm but can be an annoyance. Although, very serious dry eyes could make you more susceptible to infection so it is a good idea to speak to your optometrist.
You don’t have to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes – schedule a visit to your eye doctor as soon as possible!