Dry eyes

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:48 pm
When your eye doesn't produce enough tears, it may result in dry eye, an eye condition stemming from an imbalance in the quantity or the quality of tears. Symptoms include dryness, redness, grittiness, and-- despite the name-- even watery eyes. Dry eye sufferers often report feeling eye strain or feeling something foreign in the eye. If left untreated, dry eye can be more than just irritating or uncomfortable. Excessive dry eye over a period of time can cause serious damage to eye tissue and possible scarring of the cornea, which can lead to a loss of vision. Dry eye can also make wearing contact lenses more difficult and increase the chances of eye infection. Advancing age is the single most important risk factor for dry eye, which tends to most affect people over age 50. It can also be a side effect caused by the use of certain types of medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, oral contraceptives, or tranquilizers. If you live in a dry climate, or you've had excessive exposure to the wind, that can also be a cause. There's no known cure for dry eye, although you can relieve the symptoms and reduce your chances for complications. Tears can be replaced by using eye drops called artificial tears, or by using methods to conserve tears and prevent tear evaporation conditions. Soothing ointments may also be applied. If the problem persists, there are several medical procedures that can stop tear drainage and conserve moisture. Keep in mind that if the condition worsens and goes untreated, severe dry eye syndrome can damage tissue and possibly scar the cornea of the eye, leading to irreversible damage that can even result in the loss of sight.
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