What Are Causes of Dry Eyes?

by Aug 30, 2021

 ad  CingDryness in the eyes can result in discomfort and irritation that are detrimental to vision and quality of life.

Understanding what the cause of the dryness is allows a better treatment and outcome.


Common Causes of Dry Eyes

The most common cause of dry eyes is due to the tear film on the eyes evaporating too quickly. Other causes are infrequent blinks, changes to lid anatomy, medications, and autoimmune diseases.


Dry Eyes Caused by Tear Film Evaporation

Nearly eighty percent of all cases of dry eyes are linked to some amount of evaporative or meibomian gland dysfunction.

The meibomian glands are responsible for secreting oil into the tear film. This oil helps to prevent the tears from evaporating and thus keeps the tears on the eyes longer.

If the oil glands in the eyelids are damaged or are not working properly, the tears will evaporate off of the eyes too quickly and cause a feeling of dryness.

These cases of dry eyes may improve for a short amount of time with a blink as more oil will be secreted and the tears will be replenished.

However, the relief that a blink provides in a case of evaporative dry eye is only a short relief and the dryness will return.

Treatment for evaporative dry eye is based upon replacing the oil in the tears and supplementing the meibomian glands.

These treatments include lipid based artificial tears, expression of the meibomian glands, and warm compresses on the lids.


Infrequent Blinking

A key to maintaining a good tear film is regular blinks. If the time between blinks is longer than the typical three to five seconds, the tear film will not be replenished regularly.

If the tear film does not get replenished, the eyes will quickly become dry and irritated.

The common cause of reduced blink frequency is use of digital devices. It is known that while using a digital device, the blink rate is nearly three times less than normal.

To treat these cases of dry eyes, voluntary increasing the frequency of blinks and artificial tear therapy are the most common.

These artificial tears are designed to supplement the tears that are not being secreted due to the infrequent blinking.


How Lid Anatomy Can Cause Dryness

If the eyelids are malformed or turned in or out, blinking will not appropriately close the eyes.

Since the eyelids do not close completely, it will cause similar issues to the infrequent blinking.

To treat this conditions, surgery or intense artificial tear treatment is utilized.


Different Medications That Can Cause Dry Eye Disease

Numerous medications can cause dry eyes as an adverse effect. Medications such as antihistamines, contraceptives, and antidepressants can result in dry eyes.

Many of these medications are used for a long period and the dry eyes are a chronic complication.

In these cases, if stopping or changing medications is not a practical option, the treatment is to use artificial tears or other dry eye treatments like cyclosporine.


Autoimmune Conditions and Dryness

The most common cause of dry eyes that are not related to the meibomian glands is due to autoimmune conditions.

Conditions like Sjogren’s Syndrome, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or Rheumatoid Arthritis will frequently result in severe dry eyes due to a lack of tear volume.

The secretion and blinking are often normal, yet the lack of tear production and volume will still result in dry eyes.

Treatment for these cases is an intense regime of aqueous based artificial tears to replace the lacking volume.


Determining the Cause

To determine the cause of dry eyes, a comprehensive eye exam and possibly a comprehensive medical exam will be needed.

Your eye doctor can tailor the treatment to your specific case and ensure that the best outcome is achieved.

Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disease. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for dry eyes or would like us to evaluate for the causes of your dry eyes. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.

You can schedule your next appointment with us online!

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