What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a common eye condition that happens when your tears are unable to produce enough moisture for your eyes. Tears can be insufficient for several reasons. For instance, your eyes may not be producing enough tears, or they produce poor-quality tears. Dry eye results from various issues that interrupt the quality of your tears. Read on to learn more about what causes dry eye.

Causes of Dry Eye

Individuals with dry eyes either do not make enough tears or have poor-quality tears.

Making Insufficient Tears

What causes your eyes to not have enough tears? Tears come from tear glands in and around your eyelids, both in your upper and lower eyelids. These tear glands produce the fluid meant to get to your eyes through the tiny openings in your upper eyelids. When you blink, the liquid spreads across your eyes, lubricating them.

If the tear glands are not working right, your eyes will receive inadequate tears. Tear production usually decreases with age, various health conditions, or certain medications.

Having Poor Quality Tears

Tears contain three fluids: water, oil, and mucus. Each of these fluids moisturizes and protects the outer part of your eyes from infection. The oil helps keep the water from evaporating, while the mucus spreads tears squarely across your eyes.

If your tears do not contain enough oil and mucus, the water will evaporate too fast. Also, the water will not spread uniformly over your eye. When that happens, your tears will be of poor quality, and you could develop symptoms of dry eye.

Risk Factors for Dry Eye

Certain factors put you at risk of developing dry eyes. They include:

  • Age. Anybody can have dry eye, but the condition is more common in people above 50 years old. That is because your eyes produce fewer tears as you grow older.

  • Certain medications. Antidepressants, antihistamines, hormone replacement therapy, and birth control pills can lower mucus production, leading to dry eye. Other drugs include medications for acne, high blood pressure, and Parkinson's disease.

  • Health conditions. People with diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or those lacking vitamin A are at a higher risk of getting dry eye. The same goes for people with swollen eyelids (blepharitis).

  • Environmental factors. Exposure to wind, smoke, pollen, and dry weather conditions can make your tears evaporate quickly, leaving your eyes dry.

  • Digital devices. Working at your computer or other digital screens for lengthy periods can make you blink less often. Failure to blink as often as you should triggers dry eye symptoms.

  • Contact lenses and LASIK eye surgery. Dry eye can develop as a side effect of long-term use of contacts or after LASIK treatment. Your eyes produce fewer tears, causing dry eyes.

When to See Your Doctor

When your tears do not produce enough tears, your eyes may experience:

  • Itchy feeling

  • Soreness

  • A stinging sensation

  • Blurriness

  • Sensitivity to light

Call your eye doctor if you notice any of the signs mentioned above. Your eye doctor will check for dry eyes as part of a detailed eye checkup.

For more on the causes of dry eye, visit TMS Eyecare at our offices in Wichita or Arkansas City, Kansas. Call (620) 442-2577, (316) 686-7212, or (316) 669-4760 today to schedule an appointment.