What are dry eyes? It is the inability to produce tears, whose main function is to keep the eyes lubricated. What causes dry eyes? While some people may not be able to produce tears, especially older folks whose tears dissipate with age, others may experience dry eyes due to the type of medication they are ingesting, such as antihistamines, blood pressure pills, sleeping pills, birth control pills, antidepressants, and decongestants.
Who is affected by dry eyes? Both men and women, but it is more common among women – particularly in the post-menopausal stage. Diabetics may also have this condition, as well as those who suffer from severe arthritis.
Another interesting fact is that if you have diminished blinking (that is, the rate at which you blink per minute), this can lead to dry eyes as well. Inflammation of the eyelids can also contribute to dry eyes. When you arise in the morning and you begin to scratch your eyelids and find they are a bit crusty, this is one example of dry eyes.
Another problem which can cause dry eyes is the environment. Pollution, airborne toxins, living in a dry climate as well as exposure to the hot sun can produce dry eyes.
If you have allergies to certain topical creams, this too can cause dry eyes.
While you may not be aware of it, dry eyes can also occur if you work all day with computers, drive long distances, or are an avid reader. The constant time spent on any of these particular tasks requires concentration and focus, which slows down the blinking process and decreases tear production.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes? Most likely you will incur sensitivity to light, redness, blurry vision, pain, sensing there is something in your eye, and itching or scratching.
There is another phenomenon associated with dry eyes and that is the production of excess tears. For example, during the course of a day you may find that tears seem to automatically flow from one or both eyes. This is caused by a lack of lubrication, in which a signal is sent through the nervous system that your eyes need more lubricant. The tears begin to flow without you even knowing it. Doctors assert that these particular tears are just water and not a combination of oils, antibodies, and mucus which are the major components of tears necessary to coat the eyes as means of protection.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms caused by dry eyes, a visit to your ophthalmologist is recommended. Treatment may include artificial teardrops such as Restatis, which can be applied to the eyes daily to alleviate the symptoms.