Your Scratchy, Stinging Eyes Could be Dry Eye
You may think your eyes tear up only when you’re sad or laughing like crazy. In reality, they are tearing up all the time. This continual tearing is the method your eyes use to keep themselves lubricated, clean, and comfortable. Tears are a mixture of water, oil, mucus, and antibodies and are essential for your eyes at all times. But sometimes your tear production system breaks down, and your eyes become dry, scratchy, irritated, and probably start stinging.
It sounds like you have dry eye. We can help at Millennium Park Eye Center.
What is the dry eye?
Every time you blink, a clear tear film spreads across the surface of the eye. This keeps the eyes happy and your vision clear. If those tears stop being produced your eyes will develop dry eye.
Why are the tears so important?
That film of tears that coats your eyeball is very important. It has three layers: a mucus layer, an oily layer, and a watery layer. The oily layer works to lubricate the eye and to reduce evaporation of tears. The watery layer’s job is to keep the eye clean and remove any foreign particles that may have gotten onto the eyeball. The mucus layer also helps keep the eyes moist, and the mucus helps the tears stick to the eye rather than rolling off. Every time you blink all three layers is working to clean and lubricate the eyes.
What causes dry eye?
Hormonal changes are the main cause of dry eye. Women have a dry eye more than men due to the raging hormones of menopause. Various disorders and diseases can also lead to dry eye, often as a side symptom of the other symptoms of the disorder. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus cause dry eye by impacting the lacrimal gland. This is the gland that produces tears. Tear production can also be affected by a decrease in the sensitivity of the cornea. Wearing contact lenses, having LASIK surgery, developing diabetes, and various other surgeries can lead to dry eye. Certain medications such as beta-blockers and antihistamines can have a side effect of dry eye.
How is dry eye treated?
To test for dry eye, usually, we simply test your tear production. We can also use eye drops and note how quickly the cornea becomes dry after their application.
We treat the dry eye with artificial tears, ointments, eye drops, or surgery. Surgery can be used to plug the punctum, the duct that drains tears from your eyes into your nose. A temporary plug is tried first, and if successful we may opt for longer lasting plugs or to permanently plug the duct with cauterization. We can also use a device to unclog blocked tear glands on your eyelids. A testosterone cream can even increase oil production on your eyelids.
If you have scratchy, red eyes that aren’t due to allergies, you may have dry eye. Call us at Millennium Park Eye Center, 312-996-2020, and let’s take a look.