Eyes need adequate lubrication to keep them looking and feeling healthy. Eyes lacking enough natural tears can not only feel and look irritated, they can also experience compromised vision and be more susceptible to infection.
Tears work by lubricating the surface of the eye, keeping it flexible, smooth and clear, and better able to refract light. Tears aren’t simply water – they are a balanced film made up of three layers: the mucus layer, which holds water against the eye and keeps it moist and comfortable, the watery middle layer, which composes most of the volume, and the outer layer, which is oily so eyelids slide smoothly over the eyeball. Tears are more than just moisture – they also help wash away dust, foreign particles and bacteria with each blink.
When we don’t produce enough tears or our tears are no longer composed of the right balance of layers, eyes can burn and feel dry, scratchy and itchy and, somewhat ironically, this irritation may cause excess tearing. There may also be bothersome stringy, sticky or crusty mucus in or around the eye.
Dry eye can affect younger people, but it becomes more common as people get older. Dry eye can also be caused by certain health conditions and medications.
Treatment for mild dry eye is typically simple and includes artificial tears, which are specially-made eye drops calibrated to improve tear quality and amount, and/or artificial tear ointment to treat scratchiness upon waking; tear duct plugs, which are painlessly inserted into the ducts situated at the inside corner of the eye to prevent tears from draining down into the nose; and at-home measures and treatments shown to help eyes remain most, clear and comfortable.
A simple appointment with your ophthalmologist can determine if you suffer from dry eye, and steps can be taken to restore moisture and resolve irritation, redness and/or over-tearing and protect your eyes from further problems.
If you find yourself suffering from dry eye symptoms or relying on over-the-counter eye drops multiple times a day, call Lake Eye for an appointment. We’ll help your eyes get back to a healthy balance.