Dry eye syndrome occurs when there’s a problem with the tears your eye is producing. Tears are made up of three layers: water, oil, and mucus.
An imbalance in any of the three components could result in dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes develop when your tears don’t provide sufficient lubrication.
Insufficient lubrication can be due to either decreased tear production or the production of poor-quality tears. Keep reading to discover more about dry eye symptoms and other causes of dry eye syndrome!
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye symptoms can differ from person to person. The most common symptoms people with dry eye syndrome experience are itching, redness, or a gritty feeling in the eyes.
Other symptoms of dry eye include:
- Stringy discharge
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
Causes of Dry Eyes
Determining the root cause of your dry eye can help your eye doctor choose the best treatment route for you. The best way to find out what is causing your dry eye is by seeing your eye doctor for an exam.
Being Age 50 And Older
As you grow older, your eyes tend to produce fewer tears. If your eyes are not making enough tears, you may experience dry eye symptoms.
The chances of developing dry eye syndrome increase as you age. However, not everyone who reaches the age of fifty or older will experience dry eye syndrome.
Blinking is essential for a healthy and lubricated surface of your eye.
When you blink, the tear film spreads across the eye’s surface, which keeps your eyes feeling refreshed.
When looking at digital devices like computers or smartphones for long periods, your eyes blink 66 percent less than when doing other activities. Your tear film can not adequately replenish when you blink less, which causes dry eye symptoms.
Dry eye syndrome can be a side-effect of the hormonal changes that happen during different stages of life. For example, pregnancy, hormonal birth control, and menopause can affect your thyroid levels.
Thyroid levels that are out of the normal range can cause dry eye symptoms. For example, many women experience light sensitivity, itchiness, and blurred vision during the early stages of pregnancy when hormones are very active.
Certain autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome can cause inflammation. The inflammation caused by these disorders can result in dry eye syndrome.
If your eye doctor suspects an autoimmune disorder may be the cause of your dry eye, they will send you for additional testing with specialists. Treating the underlying cause of dry eye can improve dry eye symptoms.
You’re more likely to develop dry eye syndrome if you wear contact lenses. Contact lenses create a barrier at the front of your eyes and can partially block much-needed oxygen from reaching the surface of your eye.
Oxygen is a necessary component of a healthy tear film and eye. While many manufacturers design contact lenses to allow oxygen to penetrate the eye, you might still experience dry eyes.
Your eyes depend on the moisture in the air to remain hydrated. During the cold months, it’s normal to crank up the heating unit in your home.
Heating your house can cause moisture in the air to evaporate and expose your eyes to dry heat, triggering dry eye symptoms.
Some medications affect the function of your tear ducts and result in dry eyes. Diuretics, antidepressants, decongestants, antihistamines, and beta-blockers are all types of drugs that may affect the surface of your eyes.
If you are experiencing dry eye and are on medications that can cause dry eye syndrome, talk to your eye doctor to determine if this could be the cause of your symptoms.
Are you interested in learning more about what could be causing your dry eye symptoms? Schedule an appointment at Colorado Eye Consultants in Littleton, CO, today!