Tears are often seen as a signof weakness, but in reality, they arestrong defenders of your eyes.
They do this by forming a protectivelayer that keeps irritants (such assmoke, dust and other particles) andbacteria out of the eyes and allowingyou to see. This layer can be found onthe surfaces of your eyes at all timesand is renewed each time you blink.
“Tears are very important,” says
ophthalmologist Jitendra Gohill
of Calgary. “They protect against
infections and deliver nutrients to the
surface of the eyes.”
If your tears begin to dry up, it
can lead to different eye problems,
including dry eye disease. That
disease’s symptoms include eye pain or
irritation, stinging, burning, sensitivity
Whatever themood, tears needto flowDry eyes can lead to a number of problemsWhat’s in a tear?
Tears have a balance of three different layers—aqueous, lipid andmucous—that work together to protect the eye.
The aqueous layer is water and protein, and helps the tear spread ina thin film.
The lipid layer contains oils, and coats the aqueous layer.
The mucous layer covers the cornea and also helps the tear spreadover the eye.
to light, tearing and blurred vision.
If left untreated, dry eye disease canlead to more chronic problems, such aspermanent scarring of the cornea andvisual impairment.
Dry eyes have many causes, some ofwhich are hard to prevent.
“If you live in a hot or dry climate,then it’s almost inevitable,” Calgaryoptometrist Farrah Sunderji says. Airconditioning, fans and heating canalso lead to dry eyes, as can somemedical conditions, such as diabetes,rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Those taking birth control or allergymedications are also more likely tohave dry eyes.
To prevent and relieve dry eyes,
Gohill and Sunderji both suggest
taking breaks from computers, books,
televisions and other devices that
require prolonged attention. Over-
the-counter eye drops may be used
for temporary relief. In extreme cases,
optometrists may prescribe eye drops
or other medications.
Proper eye hygiene and sunprotection can help keep tears healthyand keep your eyes feeling fresh.
If you have dry eye symptoms, seeyour optometrist, who can properlydiagnose the problem and, if needed,advise on treatment.
— Yasmin Jaswal
For more about tears, visitmyhealth.alberta.ca.