Many of our patients will come in for their eye exams with a perplexing question – “my eyes are both dry AND watery, how is this possible?”
Well, it is possible, and it does happen.
We have two systems that provide our eyes with the moisture they need. The first system is called the “basic” tear secretion system. There are three types of glands in and around the eyes that contribute to this system. The goal of the basic tears is to provide the eyes with a moisture barrier that is protective from germs and provides a clear optical surface for light to enter the eye.
The second system is called the “reflex” tear secretion system. This mainly comes from one large set of glands up under the eyelids. Its role is to produce a large volume of tears in response to an irritation, in an effort to flush the irritant away from the surface of the eye and prevent the eye from getting damaged.
Those who have dry eyes will often have a problem with their basic tear system. It won’t be adequate enough to provide their eyes with all the moisture they need. When this happens their eyes will be irritated and “fool” the reflex tear system into action.
So that’s the answer to the question of how we can have both dry and watery eyes at the same time. Fortunately there are treatments geared towards helping your basic tear system regain its function so you are less bothered by the symptoms of dry eye. Come and talk to us during your next visit so we can discuss which treatment might be most effective for you.
– Dr. Tom Wilk