Made up of mucus, fatty oils and water, tears provide your eyes with the lubrication necessary to keep the surface of your eyes smooth and your vision clear. If the natural lubricant becomes unbalanced or too little is produced, you may suffer from chronic dry eyes. Since dry eye can also be an allergy symptom, you may not realize when it is time to see your eye care provider.
Chronic dry eyes can cause discomfort, itching, burning and irritation. Persistent dry eyes often do not lead to serious consequences, however, without adequate lubrication your eyes may be more susceptible to infection since tears are a protective barrier. If not treated, continually dry eyes can lead to scarring on your corneas due to irritation, which can lead to vision problems and affect your daily living.
There are several risk factors that can cause dry eye, many of which are not in your control. Proper nutrition for eye health is one area that you can make changes to limit the risks. Diets rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like carrots, broccoli, fish, walnuts and vegetable oils can be beneficial. Proper rest, sun protection and limiting eye strain will also help. The following are a few other factors which are not in your control:
- — Advanced age
- — Being female; particularly post menopausal
- — Radiation therapy for cancer
- — Certain medications
- — Laser eye surgery
- — Damaged tear ducts
If you suffer from chronic dry eyes you should make an appointment with an eye care professional so a proper diagnosis and potential treatment plan can be developed. Since there is a lot to review in a relatively short period of time, it is a good idea to make notes on anything relevant to your condition. Make note of all symptoms you are experiencing, even if you are not sure they are related. A list of your medications and any recent life changes is also helpful. You should also jot down any questions you may have so you will not forget during your exam.