Why Are My Eyes Dry?
Dry Eye Disease (DED), also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is one of the most common conditions seen by eye care specialists. DED is a condition that occurs when your tears are unable to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Studies have shown that 15% of the population have DED, and 25% of patients who visited an eye clinic reported symptoms of dry eye.
The tear film is made up of three layers; the outermost lipid (oil) layer, aqueous (water) layer, and a mucus layer. A deficiency of any of these layers can cause dry eye.
The causes of dry eye can be categorized into decreased tears production and increased tears evaporation.
Common causes of decreased tears production include:
- Aging process
- Use of certain medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapy
- Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and allergies
- Cornea nerve desensitivity caused by long hour usage of contact lenses, nerve damage, or laser eye surgery
Meanwhile, common causes of increased evaporation of tears include
- Dry environment
- Meibomian gland dysfunction
- Entropion or Ectropion (eye condition where eyelid unable to close the way they should)
- Less eye blinking during reading, driving, use of digital gadgets, or medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.
If you have DED, you may experience a range of symptoms including
- Feeling of dryness
- Eye irritation or burning sensation
- Eye redness
- Gritty and foreign body sensation
- Blurred vision
- Sensitive to light
When To See A Doctor
See an ophthalmologist if you experience prolonged symptoms of dry eye including redness, irritation and painful eyes.
Your ophthalmologist can provide advice and treatment plans based on the underlying cause. Treatment includes
- Artificial tears
- Prescription medications
- Meibomian gland expression
- Lid hygiene & BlephEx (eyelid cleaning and microexfoliation)
- Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
- Punctum plug (a small device inserted into the opening of the tear duct to prevent tears from draining away from the eye)
Other management of dry eyes include
- Omega-3 supplement intake
- Avoid air blowing into the eyes directly
- Warm compression
- Use of humidifier
- Wear glasses instead of contact lenses
- Take periodic eye breaks during long tasks