Experiencing dry eyes? What could the causes be and what is initiating this discomfort? Here’s all that you need to know.

Have you been experiencing dryness in your eyes, accompanied by irritation, an itchy sensation or pain? The inability to "shed tears" is a rather common condition, but quite a painful experience. Our tears are a complex mixture of water, fatty oils and mucus. While we may not feel their conspicuous presence, tears help make the surface of our eyes smooth and clear, and protect the eyes from infections. The moment there is an inadequacy of tears in the eyes, things aren't so smooth anymore.

Reduced tears in the eye manifest in the form of Dry Eyes. The main causes of dry eyes are as follows:

Decreased tear production: When your tear glands secrete lower than optimum levels of tears, lubrication of the eye is compromised. As a result, you experience itchy eyes or redness in the eyes. Some medical conditions can also result in decreased tear secretion. Some medications including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy and antidepressants are proven to be causative factors too. 

  • Increased tear evaporation: Even if your tear glands are secreting sufficient tears, what if they are evaporating at a faster rate? Wind, smoke or dry air often increase the rate of evaporation of tears, resulting in dry eyes. Infrequent blinking, often during reading, working on the computer or while driving leads to irritated eyes. Also, eyelid problems, such as out-turning or in-turning of the lids expose the surface of the eyes, making them susceptible for faster tear-loss.
  • Imbalance in the tear composition: Tear glands comprise of three different glands secreting oil, water and mucus respectively. Problems with any of these secretions can lead to an imbalance in the composition of the tears and thus causing irritated, dry eyes.

 




Other causes of dry eyes include:

  • The natural ageing process, especially menopause. Read on to know how.
  • Pregnancy in women.
  • Hormone replacement therapy for women. Only estrogen consumption puts women at 70 percent risk of experiencing dry eyes, whereas those taking estrogen and progesterone have a 30 percent increased risk of developing dry eyes.
  • Eye allergies.
  • Skin disease on or around the eyelids.
  • Postoperative symptoms of Refractive surgery (LASIK), although this is mostly temporary.
  • Chemical and thermal burns that scar the membrane lining the eyelids and covering the eye.
  • Vitamin deficiencies or excessive dosage of vitamins consumed.
  • Loss of sensation in the cornea from long-term contact lens wear.
  • Chronic eye conjunctivitis due to inflammation of the conjunctiva, a membrane lining the eyelid, resulting in a burning sensation in the eyes.
  • Exposure Keratitis, a condition in which the eyelids do not close completely during sleep.
  • Tear gland damage from inflammation2 or radiation.

Dry eye syndrome can be a temporary or chronic condition. Despite the various factors that lead to dry eyes, the discomfort due to this condition can be quite easily alleviated. Blink Tears Lubricating Eye Drops are artificial tear supplements which work just the way that your natural tears should, allowing for lubrication of the eye2. Studies have concluded that after eyedrops were given, the increasingly regular tear film decreased HOAs, improving optical quality3. Going a step further, they also prevent further damage that often happens in dry eyes. 

 

References:
1 Najafi et al, 2013 Dry eye and its correlation to diabetes microvascular complications in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications.
2 Benelli et al, 2010 Tear osmolarity measurement using the TearLabTM Osmolarity System in the assessment of dry eye treatment effectiveness, Contact lens and Anterior eye 33: 61-67.
3 Robert Monte ́s-Mico ́, Alejandro Cervin ̃ o, Teresa Ferrer-Blasco, Santiago Garcı ́a-La ́zaro, Susana Ortı ́-Navarro. 2010, Optical quality after instillation of eyedrops in dry-eye syndrome J Cataract Refract Surg, 36: 935–940.

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