To be comfortable, your eyes need to be lubricated or bathed with tears. Eyes that sting, burn, feel scratchy, and in some cases tearing are typically dry.
Dry eyes may be caused by a number of reasons. Every time you blink your eyes are lubricated with tears that spread over the surface of the eye. We are not aware of these because they stay on the surface of the eye. Without these our eyes get dry and may even water as a reflex.
Common causes of dry eye are: Heaters, air conditioners, wind, smoke, dry weather, allergies, medications, eye lid problems, menopause, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Artificial tears or lubricating drops to replace your natural tears are often used. Sometimes prescription eye drops may be given to help you produce more tears. In some cases it is recommended to have punctual plugs inserted. These act like a stopper in a sink. They only allow a small amount of tears to drain out of your eye, helping to keep the surface of your eye lubricated.
There are a number of things that you can do to help increase your comfort. They are: use a humidifier inside heated rooms, wear wraparound glasses when outside, decrease the amount of time your wear your contact lenses, avoid smoke, hairdryers, air conditioners and aerosols.
A regular eye exam can allow your doctor to examine your tear film and determine if you may need treatment.