Dry eye occurs when the eyes aren’t sufficiently moisturized, leading to skin irritation around the eye, redness, and pain. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have a chemical imbalance.
People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from using certain medications, conditions, or injuries.
Causes of dry eye
There are several factors that can contribute to the likelihood of developing dry eye syndrome. These include:
- Age: As you age, your eyes naturally become more susceptible to dry eye. People over the age of 65 have some symptoms of dry eye.
- Gender: Women are more susceptible to having dry eye conditions, exacerbated by hormone replacement therapy, pregnancy, or the use of oral contraceptives
- Medications: Certain medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants can affect the quality of tears. Medication conditions: Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid disease can be a cause dry eye conditions.
- Eye conditions: Blepharitis (inflamed eyelids), inflammation of the cornea, or when your eyelids turn inward can also result in dry eye.
- Environmental conditions: Wind and dry climates can affect how quickly your tears evaporate
Dry eye is not only painful, but it can also damage the eye’s tissues and impair your vision. Fortunately, many treatment options are available such as, non-surgical treatments for dry eye including: blinking exercises, increasing humidity at home or work, and use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment.
If these methods fail, small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed.