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Dry eyes can be caused by any number of factors. Patients experience dry eyes as a result of decreased tear production, increased tear evaporation, or an imbalance in their tear composition. Several different factors can contribute to these issues, including certain medications, prolonged computer use, and physical blockage of glands. Patient education plays a key role in addressing this condition, and Dr. Kenneth Miller invites you to learn more about the causes of dry eye, a condition we regularly treat at our New Jersey practice. Meanwhile, if you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, please contact our office as soon as possible.
Patients experience dry eyes as a result of decreased tear production, increased tear evaporation, or an imbalance in their tear composition.
Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes fail to produce an adequate amount of quality tears. The eyes depend on tears for moisture and lubrication. Glands in the eyelids secrete tears, which are made up of water, oils, and mucus. When the eyes fail to produce enough quality tears, the patient may experience red, itchy eyes, a sensitivity to light, or a gritty feeling, as if there is sand in the eye. The patient may experience an excess of tears, but these consist mainly of water, with no oils or mucus, and do little to lubricate the eyes.
Many factors can cause a decrease in tear production, such as aging, a vitamin deficiency, damage to a tear gland, and eye surgeries such as LASIK. Many medications can cause tear production to decrease, including beta blockers and diuretics prescribed to treat high blood pressure, antihistamines, anti-anxiety medications, and sleeping pills. Pain killers, when used to excess, can also cause a lack of tears. Decreased tear production is symptomatic of several diseases, including diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy or menopause, can lead to a lack of tears, as can the extended use of contact lenses.
Certain conditions can cause tears to evaporate before they can adequately lubricate and moisten the eyes. These conditions include dry, windy climates, excessively heated or air conditioned places, and extremely smoky areas. Increased evaporation can also result from a decrease in blinking. This tends to happen when we read, watch television, or work at a computer all day. Those who have issues that keep their eyelids from physically closing all the way may experience a rapid evaporation of tears as well.
Tears have three main components: a water layer helps keep the eye moist, a layer of oils serves to lubricate the eye and keep the aqueous layer from evaporating, and finally, a mucus layer which helps to spread the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. Clogged meibomian glands can quickly cause an imbalance in these layers, resulting in dry eyes.
Dry eyes can take a significant toll on your comfort and your quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome, contact office today and schedule a dry eye consultation with Dr. Miller.