Dry eyes is a common condition. It occurs when your tears are not able to provide enough lubrication for your eyes. There are various reasons that could cause your tears to be inadequate. You can have dry eyes because you are not producing enough tears or if you are producing tears of poor quality. It is uncomfortable to have dry eyes. Your eyes usually feel like they are burning or stinging. Dry eyes are common if you have in situations like:
- On an airplane
- In an air-conditioned room
- Riding a bike
- Looking at a computer screen for a few hours
What is causing your dry eyes?
Dry eyes are a result of inadequate tears. Tears are a complex mixture. They consist of water, fatty oils and mucus. This complex mixture helps to make your eyes smooth and clear. It also helps to protect your eyes from infection. There are three main causes that result in dry eyes:
- Decreased tear production
Your eyes can dry up when you are unable to produce enough tears. This condition is medically defined as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. The reasons for inadequate production of tears include:
- Medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjorgen’s syndrome, thyroid disorders and deficiency of vitamin A
- There are certain medications that can also cause dry eyes. These include: antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants and drugs that help to treat high blood pressure, acne, birth control and Parkinson’s disease.
- Laser eye surgery which causes only temporary symptoms of dry eyes
- Inflammation or radiation of the tear glands which damages them
- Increased tear evaporation
The common causes of tear evaporation include:
- Wind, smoke, dry air
- Blinking less frequently. This occurs when you are concentrating as you read, drive or working at a computer
- Eyelid problems like out-turning of the lids also known as ectropion and in-turning of the lids also known as entropion.
- Imbalance in tear composition
Tears have three layers: oil, water and mucus. If there is a problem with any of these layers, it could result in dry eyes. One problem could be the clogging of the glands on the edge of the eyelid that produce the oil film. These glands are known as meibomian glands. It is common for these glands to be clogged in people with inflammation along the edge of their eyelids.
Tips for keeping your eyes from getting dry
- Avoid blowing air into your eyes with hair dryers, air conditioners etc.
- Add a moisture in the air during seasons of dry air like winter. Install a humidifier
- Fix safety shields to the stops and sides of eyeglasses to block wind and dry air
- Take periodic eye breaks during long tasks
- Be aware of your environment and take precautions when you are in such environments
- Place your computer screen below your eye level
- Stop smoking and avoid smoke
- If you have chronic dry eyes, use artificial tears regularly.
Dry eyes is a condition you can prevent or live with. Dry eyes need to be avoided and treated because they are really uncomfortable.