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If your eyes get dry, itchy, and red at the same time every year – when the ragweed blooms, for example – you probably know what’s causing the problem. Similarly, if your eyes become teary, itchy, and dry on a windy, dry day, you can rest assured that they’ll go back to normal when you go inside and get away from the dry, windy (and most likely dusty) air that’s irritating your eyes.


However, if you’re suffering from dry eyes, and there’s no obvious allergen or other cause, you might have reason for concern, especially if the problem is ongoing. Let’s discuss some of the causes of dry eyes and how they’re treated.

POOR QUALITY TEARS

This sounds a little silly at first, but when you think about it for a moment, it begins to make sense. Your tears are composed of an outer layer of oil, middle layer of water, and inner layer of mucus. If the proportions of oil, water, and mucus are out of balance, you’ll experience dry, irritated eyes. You can tell that your eyes are producing poor quality tears by checking their consistency along with a few other symptoms.

For example, if your meibomian gland (which produces the oil for your tears) is clogged, there won’t be enough of an outer layer present to keep the water in your tears from evaporating instead of lubricating your eyes. This is often accompanied by a visible inflammation of the skin around the eye, and it’s particularly common in people who suffer from rosacea, eczema, and other skin disorders.

On the other hand, if your eyes aren’t producing enough water, you’ll get gooey, stringy discharge around your tear ducts. This happens because the mucus and oil layers come in contact with each other when there’s not enough water in between them. The mucus in your eyes serves to help your tears spread evenly across the eye. Too little will result in dry patches on the front of the eye.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s time to make an appointment with your eye doctor. Poor quality tears can be caused by a number of factors, including allergies, pink eye, and skin disorders. Simply using eye drops to alleviate the symptoms will not cure the problem.

LOW PRODUCTION OF TEARS


Low tear production can be caused by a number of factors, including, but not limited to:

  • Age: People over 50 often show decreased tear production, especially postmenopausal women. If you think you have age-related tear production issues, talk to your eye doctor.
  • LASIK or PRK surgery: After laser eye surgery, eyes may be drier than usual. This can be treated with eye drops until the eyes have fully recovered.
  • Damage to tear glands: If your tear glands are damaged or obstructed due to a skin disorder or some other issue, you may not be producing enough tears. Make an appointment with your eye doctor to diagnose the cause and determine the proper treatment.

In general, if you have dry, itchy eyes, you don’t want to try to self-diagnose. Whether you have a gummy discharge from your tear ducts or not, this condition should not go untreated, so make an appointment with your eye doctor today.

Call Silverstein Eye Centers today to make an appointment for an eye exam. We would love to see you at either of our two convenient locations — Independence/Kansas City at (816) 358-3600 or Lee’s Summit at (816) 246-2111.

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