What are the causes of Dry Eye?

What are the causes of Dry Eye?

September 15, 2019

Despite affecting an estimated 4.88 million Americans aged over 50, surprisingly few people have heard of dry eye. Also known by other names including dry eye syndrome and dry eye disease, this ocular condition occurs when a patient doesn’t produce enough quality tear film to lubricate and nourish their eyes.

 

Tear film is an essential part of our eyes. This substance, which is a combination of water, proteins and oil, is produced by small glands called the lacrimal glands. Every time we blink, tear film spreads across the surface of our eyes, providing lubrication, protecting our eyes from foreign matter, reducing our risk of eye infections and keeping them mobile and easy to use. Any excess tear film is drained away into tiny channels in the inner corners of each eye, which then drain into the back of the nose. This one of the reasons why, when you cry, you can also end up with a runny nose.

 

Although dry eye may not sound particularly serious, it can have a very real impact on the day-to-day life of the sufferer, and this is primarily because of the symptoms associated with the condition.


Symptoms of dry eye

There are a variety of symptoms that could indicate that you are suffering from dry eye. These include:

  • Eyes that feel dry, gritty and sore

  • Tired eyes which feel worse as the day goes on

  • Mild sensitivity to light

  • Slightly blurred vision

  • Redness

  • Stringy discharge or foamy tears

 

If you are experiencing any of these issues, it is important that you seek an appointment with our expert optical care team as soon as possible so that we can determine the cause of your symptoms.


Causes of dry eye

Dry eye usually occurs due to one of two reasons. The first is that the glands responsible for tear film production are not working properly or at all. This can mean that the balance of substances in the tear film is off and they are less effective, or that your glands have stopped working altogether. In many cases, this is down to a blockage in one of the ducts – a fairly quick fix. Another cause of dry eye is tear film that drains too quickly. Again, this can happen if the balance of substances within the tear film aren’t quite right or the drains are too wide. Our experienced dry eye experts should be able to determine which is the case and resolve the issue for you.

 

Why one person will experience dry eye and another won’t is not always clear. However, there are a range of factors which are believed to contribute towards the development of the condition and increase your risk of being a sufferer. These include:

  • Being over the age of 50

  • Being female

  • Taking certain medications including some antihistamines, blood pressure medications, decongestants and antidepressants

  • Suffering from blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids

  • A diagnosis of arthritis, diabetes or thyroid problems

  • Long-term use of contact lenses

  • Previous LASIK laser vision correction

  • Spending excessive amounts of time looking at screens without sufficient breaks

  • Exposure to environmental conditions including dust, smoke, and wind

 

If you are concerned about dry eye, or if you think you may already be suffering from the condition and would like expert support and advice, our team would be happy to oblige. Please contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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