The last thing you would expect with dry eyes is... having watery eyes!! Strange right? Read on to find out why...
Comfortable eyes are a balance between tear production and appropriate tear drainage.
The tear film covers the eyes and has four roles:
Protects the eyes from the environment
Lubricates the eyes
Keeps a smooth surface so light can enter the inside of the eye
Keeps the outer layers of the eyes healthy
Having dry eyes is more common as we age, as the lacrimal glands start not to function as efficiently as we need them to cope in various environments, like walking in the wind.
Oestrogen plays an important role in stimulating the production of the (lipid) fatty component of the tear film. With menopause, the body makes less oestrogen, which results in less lipids in tears and quicker tear evaporation = dry eyes.
Chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and being on various medications contribute to a decrease in tear quality and production.
If you're younger, wearing contact lenses or working for long hours in front of the computer (you tend to blink less) can also give you dry eyes.
When your eyes go dry, they might feel uncomfortable or sometimes painful. You might experience a sensation of having something in your eye, and your vision might be affected.
Very commonly, the eyes go into 'overdrive' mode and compensate by overproducing tears!
Symptoms of watery eyes include:
eyes that feel too wet
tears build up in your eyes when you’re not laughing or crying
tears streaming down your face
If, in addition to watery eyes, you find yourself wiping off sticky white or yellow discharge that can become crusty, especially after sleeping:
You might have an eye infection
You might have blocked tear ducts
How to Manage Dry Eyes:
Speak to a healthcare professional to rule out infection.
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Using a humidifier, especially in winter - heating dries the eyes even further.
Drinking more water may be obvious, but it is easily overlooked.
Wear glasses or sunglasses when walking in the wind - they are a physical barrier that stops the wind from hitting your eyes directly.
Frequent use of artificial tears - replace what your eyes are not making enough of.
Take Omega-3 supplements - increases lipids in tears.
Apply a warm compress to your lids for 4-5 minutes - opens the glands to improve their function.
Gently massage your eyelids with your finger or a cotton bud, pushing oils out of the glands.
Cleanse your eyelids gently if you have crusts forming.
If you wear contact lenses or work in front of computers, use drops regularly and carry them in your bag.
Ruth Casaletto is a pharmacist and founder of Chemist & Co Skin Clinic.