Dry eyes are nothing but a common condition that is caused when the tears are unable to provide enough lubrication for the eyes. Anyone may develop dry eyes if their tear glands don’t produce adequate amounts of tears or if they produce poor quality tears. While dry eyes is not a serious medical issue, it can cause a great deal of discomfort and irritation. Some of the common problems associated with dry eyes include stinging or burning sensations, itchiness, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tired eyes, and so much more. Similarly, most of the people may complain of dry eyes only in certain situations like in an air-conditioned room, on an airplane, while on a bike ride, or after prolonged screen time.
While dry eyes can easily be treated with prescribed eyedrops and certain lifestyle alterations, it is a good idea to understand the causes and prevent the symptoms of dry eyes. An effective way to keep dry eyes at bay is by getting to the root cause of the problem and alleviating the symptoms. Some of the common symptoms and causes of chronic dry eyes have been listed below.
- Scratchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty while driving at night
- Excessive mucus in or around the eyes
- Blurred vision
Decreased tear production
As already mentioned, the main cause of dry eyes is a lack of adequate tear production. However, for a select few eye fatigue or blurry vision associated with dry eyes may result from increased tear evaporation or an imbalance in the makeup of tears. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca or decreased tear production may be a cause of natural aging or underlying medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid, vitamin A deficiency, Sjogren’s syndrome, scleroderma, etc.
Medication and surgery
Certain types of drugs including antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapies, birth control pills, etc. may alter the eye’s tear production capabilities and lead to dry eyes. Similarly, procedures like laser eye surgery, radiation, and the like may increase tear evaporation and cause severe discomfort and itchiness.
External or lifestyle factors
Environmental factors including polluted or dry air can in turn lead to dry eyes. Additionally, lifestyle habits and factors like blinking less often, working on the computer for several hours, reading continuously, or having to drive for a long time may also result in chronic dry and itchy eyes.
Imbalances associated with tear composition
Tears are composed of an amalgamation of fatty oils, mucus, and water to keep the surface of our eyes clear, smooth, and protected from potential infection. For smooth functioning of the eyes, therefore, it is essential that each of these layers or components (oils, mucus, and water) are adequately balanced. Any imbalance or issues in either of its composition likewise may lead to dry eyes.
Other causes of chronic dry eyes
Some of the common causes of dry eyes also include factors like being over 50 years of age, deficiency of vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, wearing contact lenses for several hours, etc. Additionally, dry eyes may also be a common symptom among menopausal women or those experiencing hormonal alterations in pregnancy.