Table of Contents
A dry eye is common when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or evaporate too quickly. Tears are important for eye health as they lubricate and nourish the eye, help clear away debris, and provide essential nutrients and oxygen to the cornea. When the eyes become dry, they can become red, itchy, and irritated, making it difficult to perform daily activities. Dry eyes can be caused by many factors that disrupt the normal functioning of the tear film. The tear film comprises three layers, fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus, that keep the eyes lubricated, smooth, and clear. Any issues with these layers can lead to dry eyes.
Reasons for dry eyes
There are several reasons for the dysfunction of the tear film, including hormone changes, autoimmune diseases, inflamed eyelid glands, or allergic eye diseases. For some people, decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation can cause dry eyes. Various other factors, including environmental conditions, medical conditions, and lifestyle choices, can cause dry eyes. In this article, we’ll explore some common causes of dry eye and discuss ways to prevent and treat this condition.
The environment plays a significant role in developing dry eyes. Dry air, wind, and dust can all irritate the eyes and cause them to dry; This is especially true in areas with low humidity, where the air can be dry. Air conditioning and heating can also contribute to dry eyes by reducing the humidity in the air.
Protecting your eyes is important if you work in an environment that exposes you to these conditions.
Certain medical conditions can also cause dry eyes. Some of the most common include:
- Ageing – Our eyes produce fewer tears as we age, which can lead to dry eyes.
- Hormonal changes: Compared to men, women may develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes during menopause.
- Autoimmune diseases – Diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the tear glands, reducing tear production.
- Allergies – Allergies can cause eye inflammation, leading to dry eyes.
- Diabetes: diabetic people are more likely to develop dry eyes due to damage to the blood vessels in the eyes.
- Thyroid disorders – Thyroid gland disorders can affect tear production, leading to dry eyes.
If you have one of these conditions, it’s important to talk to your doctor about ways to manage your symptoms.
Also, dry eyes may be caused by the following:
- Increased tear evaporation may occur when the oil produced by small glands on the side of the eyelids (meibomian glands) becomes clogged. Blocked meibomian glands are more frequent in people with rosacea or other skin disorders. Other common causes of higher tear evaporation can be posterior blepharitis (meibomian gland dysfunction), blinking less often, which leads to occur with certain conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or when concentrating during some activities, such as reading, driving, or working at a computer. Eyelid problems include the eyelids turning outside (ectropion) and the lids turning within (entropion), eye allergies, wind, smoke, or dry air, and vitamin A deficiency can also cause increased tear evaporation.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, or while using oral contraceptives can lead to dry eyes in some women. Autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, etc., can cause dry eyes by attacking the tear-producing glands. Inflamed eyelid glands, a condition called blepharitis, can cause dry eyes by preventing the glands from secreting enough oil to lubricate the eyes properly. Allergic eye diseases, such as hay fever or allergic conjunctivitis, can cause dry eyes that are inflamed and itchy. Additionally, exposure to environmental factors, such as dry air, wind, and smoke, can cause the tear film to evaporate more quickly and lead to dry eyes.
Certain medications can also cause dry eyes as a side effect. Antihistamines, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and medicines for high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease can all lead to decreased tear production, which can cause dry eyes.
In some cases, nerve damage or corneal nerve de-sensitivity caused by contact lens use or laser eye surgery can cause temporary dry eyes. Additionally, some medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders or vitamin A deficiency, can lead to decreased tear production and dry eyes.
Certain lifestyle choices can also contribute to dry eyes. Some of the most common include:
- Contact lens use – Wearing contact lenses can lessen the quantity of oxygen that reaches the cornea, leading to dry eyes.
- Digital device use – Using a computer, tablet, or smartphone for long periods can cause eye strain and contribute to dry eye.
- Smoking – Smoking can reduce tear production and cause eye irritation.
- Medications – Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants, can reduce tear production and cause dry eyes.
- Nutritional deficiencies – A diet low in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D can contribute to dry eyes.
Prevention and Treatment
There are various steps one can take to prevent and treat dry eyes:
- Use artificial tears – Artificial tears are eye drops that can help lubricate the eyes and relieve dryness.
- Using a humidifier – Thus Adding moisture to the air can help reduce dryness and irritation.
- Rest your eyes – Taking frequent breaks to rest your eyes can help reduce eye strain and dryness.
- Blink more often – Blinking helps spread tears across the eye’s surface, reducing dryness.
- Take nutritional supplements – Supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and vitamin D can help promote eye health.
- Wear protective eyewear – Wearing protective eyewear, such as goggles, can help protect your eyes from environmental irritants.
- Manage medical conditions – Medical conditions like diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and thyroid disorders can help reduce dry eye symptoms.
Therefore, dry eyes can be caused by various factors that obstruct the normal functioning of the tear film. While ageing and certain medical conditions can cause dry eyes, it is crucial to look for early symptoms and timely treatment.