Everyone may experience dry eyes from time to time. But for some, the condition can be chronic and very painful.
Tears have the very important job of keeping the surface of the eye moist and washing away dust and debris which can cause irritation or damage. This action of constant clensing keeps the eye from getting scratched or injured and also protects the eye from bacterial or other types of infections. When the eye no longer produces the tears it needs to correctly coat the eye, or when the tears are not the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly, dry eye occurs. This temporary or sometimes chronic condition can make it difficult to perform daily activities and can be very painful.
The majority of people aged 65 or older experience dry eye. Casuses of dry eye include allergies, contact lens use, skin disease around the eyelids, pregnancy, exposure to irritants like chemicals or tobacco smoke, some eye surgery including LASIK, and more. Many medications can cause dry eye as a side effect.
Symptoms of dry eye include red eyes, redness of the eyelids, foreign body sensation, itching, eye discomfort, blurry vision, and burning or stinging in the eye. While there is no "magic pill" to cure the condition, there are many treatment approaches from the more conservative warm compresses and artificial tears to physician-directed treatment optoins such as prescription eye drops and oral medication to punctal plugs or eyelid surgery.
If you are experiencing dry eye, it is important to seek treatment so it does not progress and cause severe ocular inflammation. View treatment options on the horizon here.