What Causes Dry Eyes?

Date Posted:30 April 2018 

Does your eye sting, scratch or feel like there’s sand stuck in them? These are the usual dry eye symptoms and if they happen often, it may be keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is a common problem today and most people experience dry eyes at one point or another in their life. This occurs when our eyes fail to produce tears properly, resulting in an unhealthy surface. We’ve listed some of the most common causes of dry eyes to help you manage in case you experience it.

  1. Aging. Dry eye is most common with people over 50 years old. Naturally as we age, our body functions tend to slow down. Among these body functions is our tear production process, which provide moisture, oxygen, and nutrients to our eyes, and wash away unwanted sediments and irritants.

    In addition, aging comes with changes we have gone through and habits we have developed through the years that may have been not so good for our eyes. Some biological changes associated with aging such as menopause may also contribute to dry eyes.

  2. Medication. There are a lot of drugs that have dry eyes as a side effect. Some medications target a specific problem or symptom that in turn limits tear production hence drying the eyes. Some acne medication, for example, helps clear your acne by making some of your glands produce less oil, which affects the amount of oil in the tears. Other medications that causes dry eyes may include pain relievers, diuretics, nasal decongestants, hormones and birth control pills, antidepressants, and antihistamines, among many others.
  3. Health conditions. Dry eyes have been associated with multiple health conditions that they sometimes are considered symptoms or basis for diagnosis. The most common medical conditions associated with dry eyes are autoimmune diseases, particularly rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammatory diseases in the skin and eye area and some allergies may also affect tear production and eyelid function, causing dry eye symptoms.

  4. Indoor and outdoor environment. Humidity largely contribute to tear evaporation and the moisture of our eyes. Dry atmosphere draws the moisture from our tear film and may cause irritation, burning sensation, and blurry vision. Dry air is most common during winter, windy weathers, and indoors or in closed spaces with air conditioning. Although while humidity can cause evaporation of tears, it is usually not the root cause of chronic dry eyes.

  5. Regular activities. Most of the time we are up and about, we don’t really pay attention to our eyes until we feel something wrong with them. When we carry out our daily tasks, we may not be aware of the small things we do that dry our eyes, like blinking less often while reading or facing computer screens. Wearing contact lenses, smoking, and wearing make up may also cause eye irritation or aggravate already existing dry eye syndrome.

For managing dry eyes, it is important to recognise if it’s just dry eyes due to external factors, a chronic condition, or associated to a medical concern. For basic prevention, consider avoiding blowing air directly to your eyes, using humidifiers indoors, wearing protective eyewear, and taking eye breaks. If dry eyes occur often, eye drops, warm compresses and dry eye supplements may be of big help. Consulting a specialist for assessment, recommendation and medication is suggested for the best dry eye solutions.

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