All About Dry Eyes
Do you have red, dry, itchy eyes that never seem to go away no matter what you do? You may have a condition called Dry Eye Syndrome. Dry Eye Syndrome refers to an extremely common eye condition in which a person is unable to produce enough tears or their tears do not possess the right qualities to keep eyes healthy and comfortable. This can cause a consistent lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye.
To understand Dry Eye Syndrome better, it is helpful to first outline how a healthy eye works. Under normal circumstances, the eye is constantly lubricating itself with tears by slowly, but consistently producing them. This slow, but consistent production keeps your eyes both moist and comfortable. Further, healthy tears will be made up of three layers: an oily, a watery, and a mucus layer. Each of these layer plays a particular part in the successful lubrication of your eyes.
• The oily layer is outermost, and serves to slow evaporation of the tear.
• The watery layer is in the middle, and cleans the eye and helps wash away small particles and foreign matter.
• The mucus layer is innermost, and allows the watery layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly over the eye in order to keep it lubricated.
People with dry eyes, however, either do not produce enough tears, or their tears lack certain parts that would normally aid in making proper lubrication possible. This can be caused by either hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor.
Dr. Yoongie Min, of Northwest Vision Center in Columbus, Ohio explains, “Dry eye symptoms include stinging or burning in the eyes, scratchiness, and excessive irritation, which can result from smoke or wind. Although dry eyes are generally associated with a lack of tears, the eyes' response to the consistent irritation caused by dry eyes can actually cause a person to experience excessive tearing, as the eye desperately attempts to lubricate itself. This effort is unsuccessful, however, due to the rate of evaporation or inability to spread the tears properly.”
Some cases of dry eyes may come and go with the seasons, such as those that come on as a reaction to cold, dry winter air. In a case such as this, your eye doctor may recommend wearing sunglasses or goggles when outdoors to reduce your eyes' exposure to the sun, wind and dust, and an air cleaner and humidifier may be recommended when indoors to take dust out of the air and add moisture to dry air.
Studies have also shown that nutrition may have a part in helping to relieve some symptoms of dry eyes. Your eye doctor may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids are cold-water fish, cod, herring and salmon, as well as flaxseed oil. Mild dehydration can make symptoms worse too, so be sure to drink plenty of water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices and milk.
For more information, and to have Dr. Min help you with your dry eyes, be sure to make an appointment with your eye doctor today.