Dry eye is an uncomfortable condition that affects more than 16 million people in the United States. For your eyes to stay lubricated and comfortable, they need to produce good quality tears. If they aren’t producing enough tears or the tears they produce are poor quality, your eyes will begin to feel dry and irritated.
If your eyes aren’t producing the right amount or type of tears, you may experience symptoms including:
- Gritty, irritated eyes
- Stinging, burning sensation in the eyes
- Blurred vision
- Overly watery eyes
- Overly sensitive eyes
What Makes Good Quality Tears?
When your eyes produce good quality tears, each blink distributes a protective layer across the surface of the eye. Your tears are made up of 3 layers:
- Mucin (mucus) layer
- Aqueous (water) layer
- Lipid (oil) layer
The mucin layer is the innermost layer, providing the eye with moisture, lubrication, and nourishment. This layer helps tears stick to and spread evenly on the eye.
The aqueous layer is the middle layer, made mostly of water. This layer lubricates the eye and helps to wash away bacteria.
The lipid layer is the outermost layer. The lipid layer is responsible for holding the other layers together and preventing the tears from evaporating.