Symptoms and Treatments for Dry Eyes

Dry eyes are a common condition caused by insufficient tears. Tears are lubrication for the eye and without them, chronic dry eye becomes a very uncomfortable problem. There is more to chronic dry eyes than not having enough tears and it is helpful to know more about your tears and the factors that can affect their efficiency. 

More About Your Tears

Insufficient tear production and poor drainage both contribute to drying out the eye. Diminished tear production is the main problem and it isn't always easy to pinpoint what causes insufficient tears.

Furthermore, the tears can also be of a poor quality. To understand that, you have to recognize that your tears consists of three different layers. The innermost layer is mucus, followed by a water layer, and then an outer oily layer. The mucus layer helps to spread the middle water layer across the eye to nourish and lubricate it. The oily layer is made to prevent the water from evaporating before it can help the eye. If any of these layers fail to do their job, your tears will not lubricate your eyes properly and you will suffer from dry eyes.

Factors That Can Cause Insufficient Tears

  • Age: People over 65 years of age almost always experience dry eyes because it is considered a part of aging.
  • Environmental factors: Wind and dryer climates can cause your tears to evaporate more quickly and dry out your eyes. Smoke can also evaporate your tears and irritate your eyes.
  • Gender: Hormones play a role in dry eye sometimes, so women are more likely to experience dry eyes than men. Especially while on the birth control pill, and during pregnancy or menopause.
  • Contacts: Long term contact use can also reduce proper tear production. Sleeping with your contacts in is never recommended for this reason, so always take them out before bed so they won't irritate your eyes. 
  • Medical problems: Thyroid issues, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis all coincide with dry eyes. Any inflammation of the eye or eyelids can also cause dry eyes.

Clearly, your tears are more important than you probably imagined. They are not just simple water droplets to express emotion or remind you that your allergies are acting up. They are essential to keeping your eye nourished, moist, and un-irritated. You can't always do something to prevent your dry eye problem, but you can try to correct it with the help of dry eye treatment, courtesy of your optometrist.