Did you know that tears normally bathe the eyes, even when you’re not crying? Tears lubricate eyes to keep them moist and wash away dust and microorganisms that could damage the cornea and lead to an eye infection.
Some people, however, suffer from a condition called dry eye syndrome. At our Dry Eye Center in Jeffersonville, Indiana—which is one of the only dry eye centers in the Louisville, Southern Indiana, and Frankfort, KY, areas—our eye doctors offer a number of treatment options.
Many of the people we treat, however, don’t know why their eyes are chronically itchy and burning and why it seems that their eyes are always tearing up. In this blog post, we’ll explain the different reasons people suffer from dry eye syndrome (there are quite a few) and why not all tears are the same.
The Causes of Dry Eye
Before treating dry eye syndrome, our eye doctors determine why a patient developed the condition by performing tests to assess the quantity and quality of tears. This helps them recommend the most appropriate treatment. You can also take an online quiz if you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms.
The different causes of dry eye syndrome include:
Aging: Even though dry eye syndrome occurs at virtually any age, it becomes increasingly common after age 50.
Screen time: If you spend much of your day working on a computer or using a smartphone or other portable device, you’re blinking less fully and less frequently than you would normally. Tears evaporate more often and increase the risk of dry eye symptoms.
Wearing contacts: Even though it can be difficult to trace dry eyes to wearing contact lenses—or determining how much wearing contacts worsens dry eye syndrome—it is clear that a dry eye condition is one of the main reasons people stop wearing contacts.
Menopause: Yes, dry eye syndrome is among the myriad of issues encountered by post-menopausal women, whose risk of developing the condition is greater than that of men in the same age range.
Air conditioning: Indoor environments, including ceiling fans and forced-air heating systems that tend to decrease indoor humidity, can result in greater tear evaporation and cause dry eye symptoms.
Climate: Dry climates, high altitudes, and dry or windy conditions increase the risk of dry eye symptoms.
Flying: Air travel, especially for frequent flyers, expose you to extremely dry air in the cabins of airplanes.
Smoking: Count dry eyes among the health risks associated with smoking. In addition to dry eyes, smoking has been linked to a number of other serious eye problems, including macular degeneration and cataracts.
Health conditions: If you have diabetes, thyroid-associated conditions, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren’s syndrome, you are at increased risk of dry eye problems.
Medications: The risk of developing chronic dry eye symptoms increases if you take certain prescription and nonprescription medicines, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills, diuretics, and certain blood pressure medications such as beta blockers.
Allergies: Allergies can cause dry eyes, and as noted above, taking antihistamines to relieve allergies can also cause dry eyes.
LASIK: In most cases, dry eye symptoms following LASIK surgery are temporary and disappear within a few weeks of the procedure. Patients who have dry eyes before getting LASIK will often get treatment before the procedure.
Wearing a mask: In the Covid-19 era, some people have noticed that wearing masks can result in dry eye symptoms because they force air to exit through the top of the mask and over the eyes’ surfaces. If you wear glasses with a mask, it can direct the air over the eyes even more.
Eyelid problems: A condition that prevents eyelids from closing completely when blinking or sleeping can cause severe dry eyes. If left untreated, severe dryness can lead to a corneal ulcer.
Why Do I Have Excessive Tearing With Dry Eye?
Even though you have dry eye syndrome, it feels like your eyes are constantly tearing. That’s because the tears lubricating your irritated eyes are not the same as the basal tears that lubricate, nourish, and protect your cornea. Instead, they are “reflex” tears that simply wash away irritants without the essential properties of basal tears.
If you have dry eye symptoms and you’re looking for an eye doctor in the Frankfort, KY, area or elsewhere in the Kentuckiana region, you can contact us using the online form or by calling our main office at (812) 284-0660.