Dry eyes are a common problem for many individuals particularly during the winter months when exposure to dry air and whipping wind is increased. However, if you are suffering from dry eyes that just won't go away, you may have what is known as Dry Eye Syndrome – a condition in which the tears that lubricate and nourish the eye are not being produced sufficiently.
Tears serve to keep the surface of the eye moist, smooth and clear, to reduce the risk of infection and to remove foreign substances. Tear ducts in the corner of the eyelid drain the excess tears. Dry eyes syndrome is a chronic condition characterized by inadequate tear production or poor quality of the tears produced. A number of factors contribute to the condition including advanced age, female gender, environmental conditions, medication or particular medical conditions. Extended periods reading or working on a computer without blinking, prolonged use of contacts or refractive eye surgeries can also contribute to decreased moisture and tear production.
An optometrist will be able to determine whether you have chronic dry eye syndrome by examining your eye and your blinking pattern, measuring the amount and quality of your tears and assessing your medical and environmental history. There are many over the counter eye drops to choose from, but they are NOT all the same. Your optometrist can determine what is the cause of your dry eye and recommend an appropriate eye drop.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome include:
- Persistent dry eyes
- Scratchiness or gritty sensation
- Burning sensation
- Feeling like there is something is in your eye
- Excessively watery eyes
- Blurred vision
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your optometrist to discuss the source of your symptoms and develop the best treatment plan. If you have dry eye syndrome, there are treatments available to relieve your discomfort.