Dry eyes are often an indication that your tear system is not working properly. Even when you are excited or happy, your eyes have tears in them. Tears help moisturize and lubricate the eyes, which make them more comfortable. Your tears are made up of important ingredients to help keep your eyes healthy and clear. Those ingredients include water to help moisturize, oil to lubricate, mucus for even spreading, antibodies and special proteins that help ward off infection. Tears are amazing! So what happens when you aren’t getting enough of them?
Symptoms of a tear duct system that is not working
- A rough, gritty feeling or the sensation that something is in your eye
- Itching and redness
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light
Sometimes you might be getting too many tears. This is called reflex tearing and seems counterintuitive to what dry eyes are. Too many tears are the result of not getting enough tears to your eye in the first place. This dry condition sends a help signal to your brain demanding more tears. Your body responds by sending too many tears to compensate for how dry your eyes are.
Other causes of dry eyes
- Aging and menopause
- Side effects of drugs, specifically antihistamines
- Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, collagen vascular disease, or other conditions that impact your body’s ability to generate tears
- Inability to completely close the eyes
How to treat dry eyes
- Artificial tear drops and ointments. This is the most common remedy for dry eyes and can typically be purchased over the counter at any drug store. It is important to note that not every product works perfectly for everyone. You may need to try out two or three types of tear drops before you find one that feels just right.
- Temporary punctal occlusion. Your doctor may choose to close the duct in your eye that drains tears. If your doctor chooses to insert temporary plugs, they will dissolve overtime. If your situation is more intense, you might get permanent plugs instead.
- Lipiflow, testosterone cream or other prescriptions and treatments may be prescribed depending on your specific condition.