Eye irritation can be subtle or extreme, ranging from the occasional dry or gritty sensation to ongoing tearing and discharge which could be the result of a condition called Dry Eye Syndrome.
Every time you blink, the surface of your eye is protected with a new tear film consisting of three layers: an outer oil layer, middle aqueous layer and inner mucin layer. When there is an excess or lack of any of these three layers, tear production usually decreases and tear evaporation increases resulting in discomfort. Approximately one out of every five people in the U.S. suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome and because tear production decreases with age, aging is one of the most common causes of dry eyes.
Common symptoms (which may vary) include: itching, burning, scratchiness, dryness or tired eyes. Activities that prolong blinking, such as reading, computer usage, driving or watching TV can all make symptoms worse. Dry, windy, dusty or smoky environments, as well as high altitudes (including airplanes), can also aggravate dry eyes.
Options for care: Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following options: warm compresses, eyelid cleansing, artificial tears, eyelid spray, nutritional supplements or prescription therapies.