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The eye depends on the flow of tears to provide constant moisture and lubrication to maintain vision and comfort.
Tears are a combination of WATER, for MOISTURE; OILS for LUBRICATION; MUCUS, for EVEN SPREADING; and ANTIBODIES AND SPECIAL PROTEINS, for RESISTANCE TO INFECTION. These components are secreted by special glands located around the eye. When there is an imbalance in this tear system, a person may experience dry eyes.

When tears do not adequately eyes, a person may experience:
  • Pain
  • Light Sensitivity
  • A gritty Sensation
  • A feeling of a foreign Body or sand in the eye.
  • Itching
  • Redness
  • Blurring of vision.

Sometimes, a person with a dry eye will have excess tears running down the cheeks. This happens when the eye isn’t getting enough lubrication. The eye sends a signal for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears to try to compensate for the underlying dryness. However, these tears are mostly water and do not have the lubricating qualities or the rich composition of normal tears. They will wash debris away, but they will not coat the eye surface properly.

Dry eyes can also be caused by situations that dry out the tear film. This can be due to dry air from air conditioning, heat, or other environmental conditions.

Other conditions that may cause dry eyes are:
  • The natural aging process, especially menopause.
  • Side effects of certain drugs such as antihistamines and birth control pills.
  • Diseases that affect the ability to make tears, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases.
  • Structural problems with the eye lids that do not allow them close properly.

Though dry eyes cannot be cured, there are a number of steps that can be taken to treat them.

Treatment for dry eyes may include:
  • Artificial tear drops and ointments
  • Punctual occlusion: Sometimes it is necessary to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This may be done temporarily or permanently. Many patients find that the plugs improve comfort and reduce the need for artificial tears.
  • Surgery: If needed, the ducts that drain tears into the nose can be permanently closed to allow more tears remain around the eye.