Dry Eyes: Problems with Tears Common, Treatable

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Dry Eyes and Tears

Tears aren't just for crying.

Normally, a tear film covers your eyes, protecting your cornea, the clear front surface of your eye, and allowing your eyes to maintain clear, comfortable vision.

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If you notice increased eye fatigue, irritation, or a stinging, burning or scratching sensation in your eyes, it may be that your tear production has decreased. The condition, dry eyes, often feels worse at the end of day or after vision-taxing activities such as reading, watching television, driving or working on a computer.

According to the October issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource, anyone can develop dry eyes, but the condition is most common in postmenopausal women. The reason may be hormonal changes. Dry eyes also are associated with conditions that disproportionately affect women, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma and Sjogren's syndrome.

Other possible causes include medications such as diuretics, antihistamines, decongestants and tricyclic antidepressants; environmental irritants such as smoke, sun, wind and indoor heating; and blepharitis, an inflammation along the edge of the eyelids.

If dry eyes bother you, work with your eye doctor to find the cause and an effective treatment. Fortunately, dry eyes typically don't cause permanent damage to your vision. Most mild cases can be treated with over-the-counter lubricating drops. Other treatment options include prescription eye drops to increase tear production or a procedure to close tear ducts to preserve tears.

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