The winter brings an increase in patients suffering from dry eyes as a result of the presence of cold, dry air.
Tears are an essential element of eye health. They rinse any small particles caught in the eye and keep the eyes moist and comfortable. Certain enzymes eliminate bacteria that can be present in the eye.
When the eyes lack sufficient tears, the results are often discomfort such as perpetual feelings of dryness, stinging, scratchiness or the feeling of a foreign body in your eye. To the surprise of many, sometimes dry eyes can cause eyes to water excessively in an attempt to make up for inadequate tearing.
Several factors can result in dry eyes. Dry eyes can be age related since it is usually adults that complain of dry eye syndrome, especially women during menopause. Reduction in tear production is also a result of several medicines such as antihistamines, beta blockers, and blood pressure pills among others. A climate that is dry, or dry heat or air circulation can also cause or worsen dry eyes. In addition, some diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or others, excessive use of the computer which can limit blinking or contact lens usage can cause dry eyes.
The symptoms associated with dry eyes may be relieved with the use of lubricating eye drops to put moisture back into the eye. Your eye doctor
can show you which eye drops to get and how to use them. If over the counter options aren’t working you may need Rx drops that actually stimulate your body to make more tears.
For more serious cases, your eye care professional might suggest lacrimal plugs which help the eye remain lubricated by blocking the drainage of tears. Some eye doctors might discuss a few dietary or environmental modifications to relieve the symptoms as well.
For most individuals dry eye syndrome will not cause any real harm but can be a discomfort. Although, very serious cases have a chance of making you more susceptible to infection or cause scarring, so it is a good idea to speak to your eye doctor.
Particularly during the winter, it is important to make every effort to defend your eyes from dryness, biting winds and particles. Using sunglasses when outside, and trying out a humidifier indoors to combat dry heat are steps that could help.
You don’t have to suffer from dry, itchy, burning eyes - visit your optometrist as soon as possible!