Tears are often taken for granted, but they play a vital role in overall eye health. Tears help to clean and lubricate the eyes, and without them, you are at a greater risk for damage to your corneas or to eye infections.
Causes: Chronic dry eyes are caused by a common disorder of the tear film.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes: If your eyes are unable to produce enough tears, you will notice a dryness or grittiness that gets worse throughout the day. Your eyes may also be red and look irritated, and you might notice sticky eyelids especially when you first wake up in the morning. If you have these symptoms for a long time, the lack of tears can cause other problems like photophobia (an extreme sensitivity to light), severe redness, eye pain, and blurry vision.
Treatment: Fortunately, there are ways to help your body compensate for this lack of tear production. Artificial tears are often used when real tears are insufficient. Environmental modifications such as avoiding exposure to wind (including air blowing through air ducts), and avoiding extensive computer or video game use can help increase tear production. Improved nutrition and hydration can also help overcome dry eye syndrome – making sure that your diet includes foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and drinking plenty of water can help. Medicated eye drops may be prescribed which increase tear production and plugs may be instilled in the drainage ducts to improve tear volume. In severe cases, special eyewear, moisture chamber eyewear can provide some relief (many designs look like average sunglasses, so no one would ever realize you’re wearing moisture chamber eyewear).