Dry Eyes

What is dry eye?

Be Eye Wise and understand that dry eye is not normal. Instead, it’s a painful condition that impacts the health of your eyes. Dry eye occurs when the eye no longer creates adequate tears, specifically the water within the tear film. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (ker-uh-toe-kun-junk-tih-VY-tis SIK-uh).

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes are due to insufficient moisture on your eyes resulting from inadequate quality or quantity of tears. If the eyes are not lubricated enough, either by low quantity or poor quality of tears, it causes discomfort and leads to your eyes being irritated and not protected.

Low-quantity of tears:
The decreased quantity of tears is a result of aging, hormones, some medical conditions, certain medications, eye surgery, and damage to the tear gland, just to name a few.

Poor quality tears:
Your tear film consists of three basic layers: fatty oils, water, and mucus. These tear film layers keep the surface of your eyes clear, smooth and protected. Problems with any of these layers can produce poor-quality tears, which allow dry spots to form on your eye, leading to irritation.

Typical causes of inadequate tears:

  • Aging
  • Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders and vitamin A deficiency
  • Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Laser eye surgery, though symptoms of dry eye related to this procedure are usually temporary
  • Tear gland damage from inflammation or radiation

Typical causes of increased tear evaporation:

  • Wind, smoke or dry air
  • Blinking less often, which tends to occur when you’re concentrating, for example, or while reading, driving or working at a computer
  • Eyelid problems, such as out-turning of the lids (ectropion) and in-turning of the lids (entropion)

Typical causes of imbalance in tear composition:
The most common imbalance occurs when the tears don’t have enough oil composition because of blocked oil glands near the base of the eyelashes. This is the most common cause of Blepharitis.

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It commonly occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged which, as a result, leads to irritated and red eyes.

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Dry eye is a very common occurrence with aging, but time is not the only factor that causes dry eye or inadequate tears. Understanding the root cause is a major aspect of a dry eye diagnosis. That’s why Northwest Eye has opened the Dry Eye & Blepharitis Center to provide patients with the tools, time and treatment to properly diagnose and relieve their dry eye symptoms.

No one needs to live with the pain and discomfort of dry eyes. There are numerous dry eye treatment options available to you. To learn all you can about dry eye, please schedule an appointment with a Northwest Eye Clinic doctor. Because the more you know, the better you see.