WHAT'S CAUSING MY DRY EYES?
Dr. Jim Martin 03/20/2016
Dry eye is a common eye condition that affects millions of people each year. Tears are comprised of water, mucus, and fatty oils. This unique mixture keeps the surface of the eyes smooth and clear, protecting them from infection. When the eyes have an inadequate amount of tears, dry eye occurs. For some people, dry eye comes about due to reduced tear production while for other people, it comes about due to heightened tear evaporation and tear makeup imbalance.
Who Suffers From Dry Eyes?
While elderly people experience dry eye most often, it can occur at any age. Almost five million Americans age 50 and older suffer from dry eye. There are millions more who experience less severe dry eye symptoms. Women are more likely to suffer from dry eye following menopause. Women who undergo menopause prematurely are at an increased risk for eye surface damage as a result of dry eye.
Causes Of Dry Eyes
Dry eye can be short term or ongoing and may stem from any of the following causes:
- A side effect of a medication, including but not limited to, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, certain blood pressure drugs, tranquilizers, birth control pills, antidepressants, and Parkinson's medications
- Tear gland damage from inflammation or radiation
- Infrequent blinking, which most commonly stems from staring at video and computer screens for extended periods of time
- Excessive or insufficient vitamin dosages
- Homeopathic remedies
- Skin disease on or around the eyelids
- Eyelid gland diseases, such as meibomian gland dysfunction
- Immune system disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren's syndrome
- Conjunctiva chronic inflammation. The conjunctiva is the membrane lining the eyelid and covering the front portion of the eye or lacrimal gland. Certain eye diseases, infections, chemical fumes and tobacco smoke exposure, and air-conditioning and heating drafts may bring about chronic conjunctivitis.
- Hormone replacement therapy. Women taking estrogen are 70% more likely to incur dry eye while women taking estrogen and progesterone are at a 30% increased risk.
- Refractive surgery or LASIK
- Loss of sensation in the cornea due to long term contact lens wear
- Increased eye surface area, such as in thyroid disease in which the eye bulges forward or following cosmetic surgery in which the eyelids are opened too far
- Exposure keratitis, which involves the eyelids not closing fully during sleep
- Chemical and thermal burns which scar the membrane covering the eye and lining the eyelids
The eye care professionals at Broome Optical will help you determine the exact cause of your dry eyes. Schedule your consultation today.