Dry eye is a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or produce a poor quality of tears. Tears function to lubricate and nourish the eyes. The natural tears that the eyes produce are composed of three layers:
- Outer oily layer
- Middle watery layer
- Inner mucous layer
The majority of people over the age of 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes. The development of dry eyes can have many causes. They include:
- Age - dry eye is a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
- Gender - women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause.
- Medications - certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.
- Medical Conditions - persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
- Environmental Conditions - exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
- Other Factors - long term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms are different in different people, but the following are commonly experienced by those whose tear production is inadequate:
REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT
- Irritated, scratchy, dry or uncomfortable eyes
- Redness of the eyes
- A burning sensation of the eyes
- A feeling of a foreign body in the eye
- Blurred vision
- Excessive watering as the eyes try to comfort an overly dry eye
- Eyes that seem to have lost the normal clear glassy luster
- Sensitivity to air conditioning, heat or cigarette smoke
- Eye irritation upon awakening