My Eyes are so dry they Water! …What?!?

Many individuals find that their eyes water and tear. It can be annoying and uncomfortable. While it seems totally backwards, watery eyes are actually due to the eyes being dry. Let’s break it down into three steps.

  1. Our Normal Tears – Our eyes have tears that keep them lubricated. These tears are replenished every time we blink. While this tear layer is very strong and resilient, sometimes it breaks down and does not coat the eyes as it should. When these tears break down, our eyes are no longer as lubricated as they should be and so they dry out. This can cause irritation, itching, scratching or burning.
  2. Our Bodies Response – Irritation, itching, scratching or burning of our eyes is uncomfortable! Our body feels the dryness of our eyes and decides it needs to fix the situation any way it can. So our body decides to help by releasing a store of additional tears, our crying tears. When we cry, our eyes water up and it runs down our cheeks. These same tears are now called into action to lubricate the eyes when our natural everyday tears can’t get the job done. Here lies the problem. Our natural everyday tears and our crying tears are not the same. They do not contain the same components and they affect the eyes in different ways. So even though our eyes are filled with crying tears, they are not as effective in lubricating the front surface of our eyes.
  3. The Cycle Continues – Our body does not recognize that the crying tears are not helping. It only knows that the eyes are irritated and releasing the crying tears is the only way it can help. So our eyes continue to release these crying tears in an effort to fix the dryness and irritation. However, they are just not enough, and the eye remains irritated but now waters due to all of the crying tears. The eyes are so dry that they water.

Dry eye is a condition that affects tens of millions of American’s and can be managed, yet many individuals do not seek help. Eye doctors are trained professionals in diagnosing and managing dry eye and its symptoms. Discussing your watery eyes and concerns with your doctor allows them to work with you in order to manage your dry eye. Each person’s dry eye is unique to them and your doctor can help you find a solution that is right for you. No one should have to “put up with” dry eye, and you shouldn’t either!

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