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Tears are necessary to keep your eyes healthy. Tears flush any dust or particles out of the eye and maintain moisture. Certain enzymes found in tears eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes do not produce enough tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, burning, itching or the feeling of something in your eye. Ironically, occasionally dry eyes can cause watery eyes as the eyes try to compensate for dryness.
Several causes can result in dry eyes. Dry eyes are often age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Dry eye syndrome can also result from certain medicines. Dry or dusty air, and excessive heating or air conditioning are also known causes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or problems with producing tears, excessive staring at a computer which can cause insufficient blinking, or contact lens wear can contribute to dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes may be alleviated by using artificial tears to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your optometrist can tell you which eye drops to buy and how to use them. If over the counter drops don’t help you may need prescription drops that actually stimulate your body to produce more tears.
If artificial tears aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might opt for Lacrisert, an insert placed inside the eyelid that continually releases lubricants throughout the day. Another option is lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain moist by controlling the let down of tears. Some eye care professionals may discuss a few ways for you to change your environment and your diet to alleviate the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eye syndrome does not affect your vision permanently but can be a discomfort. However, severe dry eyes have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is advised to consult with your eye doctor.
It’s not necessary to live with dry, itchy, burning eyes - make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible!