Everyone knows that tears run from our eyes when we cry or when our eyes are irritated. But tears have a much more important everyday function. A film of tears, spread over the eye by a blink, makes the surface of the eye smooth and optically clear. Without our tear film, good vision would not be possible.
Some people do not produce enough tears to keep the eye wet and comfortable. Stinging, burning, scratchiness, stringy mucus, and excess irritation from smoke are usual symptoms. Problems with contact lenses can be caused by dry eyes and may make it impossible to wear contact lenses at all.
Surprisingly, increased tearing may be a symptom of dry eyes. If the basic tear secretion is below normal, excess tears are produced by the lacrimal gland in response to irritation. Even though the eye is basically dry, overflow tearing can occur, masking the dryness which caused them in the first place. We can diagnose dry eyes by simply examining the eyes. Sometimes tests which measure tear production may be necessary.
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