The winter leads to many more cases of dry eye syndrome as a result of the circulation of cold, dry air.
Your eyes need tears to stay healthy. They wash out the eye of any dust or particles and maintain moisture. They also contain enzymes that eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
For individuals whose eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as constant dryness, burning, scratchiness or a foreign body sensation. To the surprise of many, dry eyes often can cause watery eyes to try to defend against inadequate tearing.
Several causes can result in dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes are often age related as most individuals that suffer from dry eyes are adults, and often women going through menopause. Reduction in tear production can also be a side effect of several medications such as diuretics, beta blockers, birth control pills or others. Dry or dusty air, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. Additionally, certain systemic diseases or deficiencies in producing tears, prolonged computer use or use of contact lenses can contribute to dry eye syndrome.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes can often be improved by using artificial tears to make up for the lack of natural tears. Your optometrist can show you which eye drops to purchase and how to use them. If non-prescription options don't help you may need prescription drops that actually help your body to make more tears.
If those aren’t helpful, your eye care professional might opt for Lacrisert, which is placed on the eyelid and periodically lets out lubricants throughout the day. You might also want to try lacrimal plugs which help keep the eye moist by slowing the let down of tears. Some eye care professionals may discuss a few dietary or environmental changes to reduce the symptoms as well.
In the majority of cases, dry eyes will not cause any permanent damage but can be a discomfort. Nevertheless, very serious cases have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection so it is worthwhile to consult with your optometrist.
Especially in the winter months, it would help to make sure to safeguard your eyes from dry, biting winds and particles. Wearing sunglasses when outside, and using humidifiers inside when the heat is blasting are steps that could help.
It's not necessary to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes – visit your optometrist today!