Many people experience an occasional bout of burning, irritated, or scratchy eyes but for 3 million American women and 1 million men these symptoms are chronic but not necessarily something that you have to live with.
Tears are important for good vision. They lubricate the eye, protect from infections and irritants (pollution, allergens, smoke, etc). With dry eye syndrome, the eye produces too few tears, or tears of poor quality that they don’t stay on the eye. These people may have watery eyes or tears running down their face and yet suffer from dry eye syndrome; ironic isn’t it?
Everyone produces fewer tears as they get older. Certain medications exacerbate dryness: hormone therapy, birth control pills, blood pressure pills, antihistamines and certain anti-depressants. Environmental factors make dry eyes worse: dusty, dry, windy climates, air blowing on your face (air conditioners, heating, windows rolled down on the car); staring at a computer screen for hours a day. Your diet can affect tear production: too much caffeine or alcohol, not enough water. All can have a negative affect on your tear quality.
Dry eyes are something that you don’t just have to live with. There are options to help you available from your eye doctor. It might be as simple as using lubricating drops a couple times during the day when you’re at a computer, adding omega 3’s to your diet, running a humidifier in your bedroom. There are prescription drops available now that actually help your body to increase tear production. Sometimes temporary or permanent closure of lacrimal (tear) ducts to keep your tears from draining away. With a careful evaluation by an eye care specialist to determine why your eyes are dry and proper treatments, you can have comfortable eyes again.
Author: Dr. Marcia Stauter
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Parkview Family Eye Center
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