A Quick Guide to the Symptoms and Causes of Dry Eye

As your source for eye health and prescription eyewear for Cambridge, MA, and Medford, our team at All Eye Care Doctors is dedicated to educating our patients in regards to eye health and care. As a start to the new year, we’re focusing this month’s blog post to discussing some of the signs, symptoms, and underlying causes of dry eyes.

Even when you aren’t crying, your eyes are always full of tears to keep them lubricated and healthy, which helps you see and keeps you comfortable. As a special mixture of water, oils, mucus, antibodies, and proteins, the ingredients for tears come from special glands around your eye.

If you have dry eyes, this can mean that your tear system is not functioning as it should.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes

When your eyes aren’t getting the moisture they need, you may experience:

  • Itching
  • Blurry vision
  • Redness
  • The feeling of having something in your eye
  • Light sensitivity

Dry eyes can sometimes cause you to produce too many tears, as nonsensical as it sounds. This condition, known as reflex tearing, comes about due to eye irritation from a lack of moisture, sending a distress signal through your nervous system for more eye lubrication and resulting in a flood of tears to relieve the dryness. However, these tears are not normal tears; they are mostly made of water. While these tears can wash away debris, they cannot coat your eye’s surface due to their lack of mucus.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Sometimes, there may be a lack of balance in your tear-flow system. It’s also possible that your tear film is getting dried out from your home’s heater, air conditioner, or other ventilation. Other common causes of dry eyes include:

  • Age. Dry eyes are a natural part of growing older. Most people over the age of 65 experience some dry eye symptoms. 
  • Gender. Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to the hormonal changes brought on by pregnancy and menopause, as well as the use of oral contraceptives.
  • Medical conditions. People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are at greater risk of dry eyes. Furthermore, inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can also cause someone to experience dry eyes.
  • Medications. Certain medicines like decongestants, blood pressure medications, antihistamines and antidepressants can decrease tear production.
  • Environmental conditions. Exposure to dry climates, as well as smoke and wind, can increase tear evaporation which leads to dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly can also contribute to drying of the eyes. This sometimes happens when staring at a computer screen for a long period of time.
  • Other factors. The long-term use of contact lenses can contribute to the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.

Relief for Dry Eyes

To learn about how All Eye Care Doctors can help you with your dry eye troubles, call one of our optical centers in Cambridge, MA or Medford, MA today!

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