What causes dry eye?

Dry eye is a painful condition consisting of stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes, sensitivity to light, redness, watery eyes, mucus in or around the eyes, blurred vision, eye fatigue, the feeling that something’s in your eye. Decreased tear production, excessive tear evaporation or an imbalance in tear composition are the leading causes behind a lack of adequate tears, leading to dry eye. Here are the most common reasons dry eyes can develop:

  • Age is a factor. Most people over the age of 65 will experience some symptoms, as dry eyes are part of the natural aging process.
  • Women are more prone to dry eye due to hormonal changes caused by menopause, the use of oral contraceptives and pregnancy.
  • Medications that lead to dry eye include antihistamines, decongestants and blood pressure medications, hormone replacement therapy, birth control, antidepressants, acne medications, and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease.
  • Eye injury or certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, scleroderma, vitamin A deficiency can reduce tear production. The inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eye.
  • Environmental conditions such as exposure to smoke, wind, dry air or even exposure to excessive sun can cause dry eye. Reading, driving or staring at a computer screen for too long without blinking regularly can contribute to dry eye.
  • Long-term use of contact lenses is one cause. Inflammation of the eye, such as conjunctivitis or keratitis, can cause dry eye.
  • Oil, water and mucus are the three basic layers in the tear film, and an imbalance in any of these layers can cause dry eye. Blocked meibomian glands, which are the small glands on the edge of your eyelids, are common in those who have eyelid inflammation, rosacea or other skin disorders.
  • If you’ve had LASIK or another refractive eye surgery, you are more prone to dry eyes if there’s a decrease in tear production. Often this is only temporary.

If you’re dealing with prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, it’s essential to see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. To schedule an eye exam, contact our Everett office at (425) 259-2020.

Posted in: Dry Eye

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Physicians Eye Clinic
3930 Hoyt Ave
Everett, WA 98201
Tel: (425) 259-2020

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