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Irritable or Dry Eyes

Dry, tired, itchy eyes and weepy, watery eyes, along with the intermittent blurry vision they bring, are among the most commonly reported symptoms. It's not surprising, really, because our eyes spend all our waking hours exposed to the environment. Getting the tear balance just right is a constant challenge to our eyes.

We all know about the tears we produce when we cry, but there is also a thin layer of tears (the tear film) coating the front of the eye all the time. This layer lies at the heart of many dry and watery eye problems. The fluid making up the tear film has many components produced by a number of different glands and tissues around the eye.

The balance of the tear film is affected by hormone levels, some medications, eye conditions such as allergy or inflammation. Any upset to the balance in the production of tears can lead to the tear film not being smooth and stable on the front of the eye.

Add to this the changing external conditions — hot, cold, dry or dusty environments and it’s surprising the whole system copes so well. When the tear film quality is reduced, our eyes may feel dry and gritty. Sometimes if they become irritated enough, the eye responds by flooding the eyes with tears. Thus 'watery' eyes can be a symptom of an underlying 'dry' eye problem!

Persistent watery eyes can indicate a problem with the drainage of tears from the eye. Ideally, the eyelids sit in close to the eyes, and remove a little bit of tear fluid each blink. But if the eyelids are a bit floppy, or if the drainage pathway is blocked, tears will find another way to leave the eye, usually 'leaking' out the corner.

Treating dry or watery eyes may involve the use of eye drops or treatments for lit inflammation. There are lots of possible causes for a dry or watery eyes, including some that are more serious, so having a thorough eye exam is the best place to start.

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