Dry eyes can happen when your tears do not adequately lubricate your eyes. Tears bathe the surface of your eyes to keep them moist and to rinse away dust, debris, and microorganisms that can harm your eye. Dry Eye Syndrome can make your eyes burn or sting and leave your eyes feeling gritty, scratchy, and irritated.
There are five leading causes of dry eyes.
- Decreased tear production
Dry eyes can occur when your eyes do not produce enough tears, a condition known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This condition may be the result of aging, inflammation, or damage to the glands that produce tears.
- Increased tear evaporation
Eyes may become dry when tears evaporate too quickly. Wind, smoke, and dry air can accelerate evaporation, as can blinking less often while driving or using a computer. Eyelid problems, such as eyelids that turn inward or outward can also speed up the evaporation of tears.
- Imbalance in tear composition
Tears have three layers that keep your eyes healthy, comfortable, and working properly: a watery layer, an oily layer, and a mucus-like layer. The watery layer keeps your eyes moist while an oily layer prevents the water in tears from evaporating too quickly. A mucus-like layer helps spread the tears evenly across the surface of your eye. Imbalances in the composition can cause tears to evaporate too quickly or do a poor job of moisturizing the eyes.
- Side effects of certain drugs
The use of certain medications can cause dry eyes. Antihistamines and decongestants reduce mucus and water production in the body, which can prevent the tear glands from making tears. Acne medications can suppress the production of oil. Antidepressants, Parkinson’s medications, and sleeping pills can block signals between nerve cells, which can stop the signals that tell your eyes to produce tears.
- Diseases or health conditions
Some medical conditions, such as Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases, can affect the body’s ability to make tears. Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders may also decrease tear production.
Illinois Eye Center is proud to offer ILux, BlephEx, and TrueTear to treat your Dry Eye Syndrome. For more information on the causes of dry eyes, and to find out ways to prevent or treat dry eyes, consult with your eye doctor or call us at (309) 243-2400.