The main purpose of tears is to lubricate the eyes by providing a thin film that clears the vision. However, when the eyes lack enough moisture or tears evaporate too quickly, the result is common dry eye symptoms. If you are experiencing dry eyes, listen to your body – there may be a good reason!
Sometimes the cause of dry eye is something very simple, like old age. With age, the lachrymal glands start producing fewer tears and this naturally leads to dry eyes. There are many symptoms that relate to dry eyes, such as itching, burning, irritation or grittiness, redness, blurry vision that gets clearer as you blink, light sensitivity, and excessive tearing. Many of these symptoms may also be found in other eye conditions, so a proper diagnosis is very important.
Dry eye syndrome is not usually a serious condition. It may be slightly painful and irritating, but it most cases it doesn’t affect vision. However, there are rare cases where severe untreated dry eye syndrome has caused visual impairment and scarring of the eye’s surface.
If you suspect you have dry eyes, you should make an appointment to see an eye doctor. He or she will determine which treatment is best for you based on your individual circumstances.
Dr. Trevor Elmquist, of Elmquist Eye Group, provides opthalmology care through Shell Point’s Specialty Medical Center at The Arbor Assisted Living. To make an appointment, call (239) 936-2020.
A version of this post was previously published on the Shell Point Health & Wellness Blog in 2012.