Do your eyes frequently water? You might have “dry eye syndrome.” It seems counter-intuitive, but it’s true.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by a lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. The symptoms can range from subtle to significant irritation. Dry eye syndrome, or simply “dry eye”, is very common and a major reason for eye doctor visits.
Some of the symptoms of dry eye are burning or itchy eyes, heavy or fatigued eyes, red eyes, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, and as odd as it may seem, watery eyes. Unfortunately, dry eye can affect the outcome of some eye surgeries, including cataract surgery, which is one reason it is important to see your eye doctor if you think you may have dry eye. When the surface of the eye is dry, it will sometimes over-stimulate production of tears as a means of protection. But, unfortunately, these tears don’t stay on the eye long enough to correct the underlying dry eye condition.
There are some factors that are associated with dry eye including:
- Computer Use – When working at computers or on smartphones, we tend to blink our eyes less frequently, leading to greater tear evaporation, which can cause dry eye.
- Contact Lenses – Dry eye discomfort is a primary reason why people stop wearing contact lenses.
- Aging – Dry Eye Syndrome is more common over the age of 50.
- Dry Indoor Environment – Air conditioning, ceiling fans and forced air heating systems can decrease indoor humidity, which can cause dry eye symptoms.
- Dry Outdoor Climates – Dry climates and windy conditions can cause dry eye.
- Frequent Flying – Airplane cabins are very dry and can lead to dry eye problems, especially for frequent travelers.
- Smoking – In addition to dry eyes, smoking has been linked to a variety of eye conditions such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Medications – Some prescription medicines can increase the risks of dry eye.
- Health Conditions – Some diseases, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, contribute to Dry Eye Syndrome.
Depending on which tear gland is affected, (there are three different tear-producing glands, each responsible for a different part of the tear), there are different treatments. This makes it even more important to see your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. If you have dry eyes or think you have dry eyes and require cataract surgery, talk to your doctor.