Tears actually are more than ways to express your joy or grief. They are protective barriers that help to protect and lubricate the eye. They are composed of water, oil and mucus. If these three ingredients are not maintained in balance then your eye will become irritated and dry.
Mechanics of tears
Tears have three main layers. The first layer and closest to the cornea is the mucus layer. It forms a coat around the cornea and provides a base for the water layer of the tear to stick to the eye. The second layer is 98% water and some amounts of salt, proteins and other compounds. The last layer that faces the outside is the oily layer.
The lacrimal gland produces the water in the tears and other smaller glands are responsible for producing the mucus and oil. The tears are spread over your eye by the blinking eyelids. All the extra tears flow into two small drains that are located in the corner of your eye near the nose. This is why your nose becomes runny when you cry.
Causes of a dry eye
When the tear production becomes reduced, or if too much of tear evaporation takes place or an abnormality occurs in the production of mucus or oils that compose the tear layer, any one these can be a reason for the dry eye syndrome.
The most common symptom of this syndrome is a discomfort in your eyes. It can be anything from a slight pain to an itchy or scratchy feeling in your eyes. You can have red itchy eyes and tears may flood your eyes.
You will also find it difficult to focus and hence, tasks like watching TV or knitting will be difficult. A burning sensation, irritation, stringy mucus around as well as in the eyes can be some of the symptoms.
Artificial tears work similar to natural tears. They lubricate and protect the eye.
Tips to prevent dry eye syndrome
Artificial heating in winter and artificial cooling in summer increase the dryness of the room. Therefore, you should limit their use.
You should also avoid using fans that cause excessive movement of air.
Rest your eyes if you feel they are drying out. Blink more often to keep them moist.
Eat healthy and balanced food containing vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.