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Dry Eye

Some people do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep the eye healthy and comfortable. This is known as dry eye. Tears are produced by two different methods. One method produces tears at a slow, steady rate and is responsible for normal eye lubrication. The other method produces large quantities of tears in response to eye irritation or emotions. Tears that lubricate are constantly produced by a healthy eye.

Excessive tearing occurs when the eye is irritated by a foreign body, dryness or when a person cries. The usual symptoms of Dry Eye include stinging or burning eyes, scratchiness, stringy mucus in or around the eyes, excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind, excess tearing, and difficulty wearing contact lenses. Excess tearing from “dry eye” sounds illogical, but if the tears responsible for maintenance lubrication do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated. When the eye is irritated, the lacrimal gland produces a large volume of tears that overwhelm the tear drainage system. These excess tears then overflow from your eye.

Tear production normally decreases as we age. Although dry eye can occur in both men and women at any age, women are most often affected. This is especially true after menopause. Dry eye also can be associated with other problems. For example, people with dry eyes, dry mouth and arthritis are said to have Sjogren’s syndrome. A wide variety of common medications – prescription and over-the-counter – can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion.

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