Do your eyes feel chronically dry, itchy and uncomfortable no matter what you do? You may have an eye condition our optometrists in The Woodlands, TX call dry eye syndrome. It is important for you to know as much as possible about your dry eyes so that you and your eye doctor can discuss what options you have to treat them.
A normal, healthy eye will constantly keep itself lubricated with tears by producing them at a slow but steady rate. This keeps your eye moist and comfortable, without excessive tearing. If your eyes do not produce enough of these tears, your eyes will not be able to stay hydrated, and may become red, dry and/or itchy. Alternatively, your eye may produce enough tears, but these tears lack one or more essential ingredients to successfully keep your eye hydrated and comfortable.
Healthy tears consist of three basic layers, each of which helps lubricate and protect your eyes in different ways:
The Oil Layer
The role of the oil layer, which is outermost, is to slow the process of evaporation, so that your tears stay on the eye longer.
The Water Layer
The water layer is the middle layer of the tear and is the largest part of the tear It cleans the eye and washes away small foreign objects and particles that may otherwise damage the eye.
The Mucus Layer
This layer is innermost in the tear. This mucus layer allows the water layer to stick to the eye and spread evenly over the eye. This facilitates the most efficient, most even lubrication possible over the entire surface of the eye.
A person with dry eyes may experience hormonal changes, side effects from medication or some other factor which causes the eye to either not produce enough tears, or leave out some of the above mentioned parts of the tear that make proper lubrication possible.
Dr. Claudio Lagunas of Lifetime Eyecare Associates in Woodlands, Texas explains, “Symptoms of dry eyes may include stinging or burning in the eyes and excessive irritation from smoke, wind or dust. The eyes’ response to the consistent irritation caused by dry eyes may also cause the eyes to tear excessively. Although this may sound counter-intuitive, in this case, the eye is attempting to flush foreign bodies and keep itself lubricated by producing more tears. It is unable to do so successfully, however, due to the rate of evaporation or inability to spread the tears evenly over the surface of the eye.”
Although dry eyes are not always curable, your optometrist may prescribe artificial tears to help with some of the symptoms. Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that are specially formulated to imitate the tears that your eyes should be producing naturally. Different artificial tears work in different ways. Some help replenish parts of the tear that your eyes are not producing on their own, others help to produce more tears overall. Our eye doctor in Conroe or The Woodlands, TX will assist you to choose which will help you most.
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, be sure to make an appointment with Dr. Lagunas today.