Some people do not produce enough tears to keep the eye healthy ad 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 tears occur when the eye is irritated by a foreign body, dryness and when a person cries.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
The usual symptoms include:
Stinging or burning eyes
Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind
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.
Non-surgical treatments for dry eye include prescription eye drops such as RESTASIS® which can treat chronic dry eye caused by low tear production. Made by Allergan, RESTASIS® drops increase tear production so the eyes are better moisturized and less painful. If this method fails, small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed.