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Linda Mundorff

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What is Wrong With My Eyes?

October 2007
By Dr. Linda Mundorff, MPH,MSN,ND,RN,CNC,CTN

Do you suffer from: burning eyes, itchy eyes, red eyes, and or watery eyes? You might be surprised to learn that those symptoms could be a result of chronic dry eye. Dry eyes are more common than you think and have been treated incorrectly by many sufferers. The condition is called, dry eye syndrome because there could be more than one reason to its cause. So what exactly is dry eye syndrome? The eye has a tear film layer that functions to produce natural tears to help lubricate and rid the eye of irritants. The cause is usually due to a problem with the tear film layer or because the tears being produced do not contain the proper mix of moisturizing elements to maintain lubrication. So what happens is an eye that appears to make tears, but in actuality is not producing adequate or enough tears.

There are a great number of products on the market for treating conditions of the eyes. And because you can purchase most of them over-the-counter and without a prescription, many think these products are completely safe to use. But the fact of the matter is that you could actually be making your dry eye condition worse. For example, eye products that claim to help allergy eyes do so because the chemical preparation used helps to minimize watery eyes. If you have a dry eye condition instead of an allergy, you could actually cause your eyes to become more dry and irritated.

There are a variety of conditions that can lead to and cause dry eye syndrome. The condition can be a result of a potential medication side effect. Examples of potential medications that can result in dry eye are: birth control pills, allergy medication, blood pressure remedies, arthritic preparations, and antidepressants drugs. Dry eye can also occur from environmental irritants such as: air-conditioning, excessive de-humidification of the air, dry heating systems, and prolonged eye contact wearing. The issue of dry eye also occurs as the normal part of aging. Lastly, dry eye syndrome has been associated with a malfunctioning eye-lid or a defect in the eyes involuntary blinking reflex action.

Left untreated, dry eye syndrome can worsen uncomfortable symptoms such as: burning, itchiness, a sense that something is in the eye, and blurred vision; to more serious complications such as: cornea scaring, impaired vision, and serious damage to surrounding eye tissue.

There are many eye drop preparations on the market. Therefore, it is important to match the correct preparation with the correct set of eye symptoms. Below is a brief over-view of the types of eye drops available and their benefits:

  • Reduce redness: Used for tired and irritated eyes.
  • Artificial tears: Used for dry and scratchy eyes (occasional dry eye).
  • Allergy eye: Used during allergy season for itchy and watery eyes.
  • Eye wash: Used to rinse the eye to remove irritants such as an eyelash.
  • Dry eye: Used to stimulate the production of tears.

There are also prescription eye drops that are used to treat eye infections such as conjunctivitis. So because dry eye syndrome can be confused with a variety of other eye abnormalities it is best to have any sudden changes in the condition of your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist.

As health care consumers, it is our obligation and responsibility not only to advocate for us but for our family as well. Therefore, I recommend that every member of your household have an annual eye examination. Preventive eye examinations help screen for not only minor eye abnormalities but also to check for vision changes, retinal changes, glaucoma, cataracts, and tumors, among other changes. Although eye cancer is rare, a tumor of the eye can develop at any time and anywhere along the various components of the eye. Even if the tumor is non-cancerous it can cause serious problems to surrounding tissue if it grows. Armed with knowledge you can improve your chances of better-informed decisions about your health and the health of those you love. You’ll be glad you did!

BIO: Dr. Mundorff is the author of several books, Her latest book, Take Control: A Guide to Holistic Living, is an innovative health guide, which helps the reader learn how to regain control of their health by discovering the practical effectiveness of combining alternative and modern medicine. You can reach her at or visit her website at

Disclaimer: Dr. Mundorff is a Registered Nurse and Board Certified Traditional Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases, nor be misinterpreted as a prescription. This information is provided with the understanding that the author is not engaging in a health-care practitioner/patient relationship with her readers. In the author’s best judgment, the information and opinions expressed here are accurate and sound at the time of publication. Readers who rely on the information in this book as a replacement of the advice of a medical doctor assume all risks of such conduct. The author is not responsible for errors or omissions. Please consult your doctor before starting any alternative modalities.