The human eye produces tears in order to provide it with moisture and lubrication. Our vision and comfort depend on these tears. Tears are made up of water, mucus, oil, antibodies, and proteins which help to protect the eye from infection. The glands around the eye produce our tears and when they are not produced as they should be it can cause excessive or chronic dry eyes. This can lead to:
When the eyes are too dry, they send a distress signal to the brain to produce more tears. However, these tears are not as effective because they are made up of mostly water. They are mainly effective at flushing the eye of debris but they will not hydrate an overly dry eye.
Many things can cause eyes to become too dry. Imbalances in tear production, being in environments which are very dry, hot, or air-conditioned. Medical causes can include:
Ophthalmologists will usually prescribe tear eye drops and ointments for those who have chronic dry eye. Over-the-counter medications can help however they are usually not as effective as the prescriptions. No one drop works for every person, so there will be a period of experimentation to determine which works best. Temporary or permanent punctual plugs can also be used. These are inserted into the tear drain to increase a person’s tear level. Relief may also be available by supplementing your diet with omega-3 fatty acids which can be found naturally in certain foods. Ask your Eye M.D. if supplements of omega-3 fatty acids could provide you with the necessary relief. If other treatments have not provided relief from Dry Eye your doctor may prescribe a medication called cyclosporine. Cyclosporine works by stimulating tear production. Steroid eyedrops may also be used but are not recommended for long-term use.
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