What Causes Dry Eyes?

Posted on: June 15, 2017

dry eyesTo understand dry eyes, it is important to first understand that they are caused by a lack of adequate tear production, increased evaporation of the tears or an imbalance in tears. Tears are a complex mixture produced by the body, which consists of water, fatty oils and mucus. This potent mixture helps the surface of the eyes remain smooth and clear, while also protecting the eyes from infections.

If the eyes do not have sufficient lubrication, it can lead to significant health issues and damaging infections. If a person is suffering from dry eyes, they need to make sure that they go in and see an optician as soon as possible. We can offer eye drops or other treatment options in order to offset the eye production, evaporation or imbalance.

A decrease in tear production

The inability to produce enough tears is a very common condition. Medically, this condition is known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. There are any number of reasons why a person may not be able to produce enough tears and suffer from dry eyes. Some of the most common reasons why people may have this condition due to an inability to produce sufficient tears include taking certain medications that include:

  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Thyroid deficiencies
  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Drugs for high blood pressure
  • Acne
  • Birth control
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Decongestants

Other possible reasons for the eyes being dry and being unable to produce tears include:

  • A vitamin A deficiency
  • Laser eye surgery, though the symptoms of dry eyes related to laser eye surgery are normally temporary
  • Aging
  • The tear glands being damaged due to exposure to radiation or inflammation

An increase in tear evaporation

Evaporation is the process of water leaving a surface into the atmosphere. Since tears are mainly made up of water, very often a person will suffer from dry eyes because they are experiencing excessive evaporation of tears. There are several reasons why a person may be having excessive evaporation of tears.

The excessive concentration can lead to blinking less often. This tends to occur when a person is concentrating hard while reading, driving or working at the computer. Standing in too much wind, being exposed to smoke or extraordinarily dry air can also cause excessive evaporation of tears. Medical problems with the eyelid such as out-turning eyelids or in-turning eyelids. These are known as ectropion and entropion, respectively, and both can lead to easier evaporation of tears and dry eyes.

Imbalance in the chemical make up of tears

Tears, which help to reduce this problem, are made up of three basic layers, or ingredients. These three layers are oil, water, and mucus. If any one of these layers has a problem, it can lead to dry eyes. For example, the oil film is produced by a small gland on the edge of the eyelids, which might become clogged.

If these glands become clogged, there is a chance that the tear composition will be off balance and create this issue. An imbalance in tear composition is most often caused by some other underlying condition.

Get help for your eyes by scheduling an appointment with our clinic today.