Top 6 Dry Eyes Causes
1. Increased age
As you get older, your body may produce smaller amounts of tears. You may notice that your eyes often feel dry or itchy. This is a natural part of the aging process and usually is not a sign of a serious medical problem, although you may still need treatment to relieve your discomfort.
Dry eyes are a common side-effect of many prescription medications. If you notice that your eyes feel dry or itchy after starting a new drug, notify your doctor. Your doctor may suggest trying a different drug or using prescription eye drops for added moisture.
3. Chronic health conditions
Many chronic health conditions can cause dry eyes or eye irritation. Hormone imbalances are especially likely to trigger dry eyes. Dry eyes are also a common symptom of many thyroid disorders, including hypothyroidism.
4. Environmental factors
Changes in the weather, humidity, or pollen count can sometimes dry out your eyes. Exposure to dust, smoke, or chemical fumes can also be responsible for eye irritation. If your symptoms are caused by your surroundings, you may need to make adjustments to your environment. Using an air purifier or humidifier can help. Prescription medication can also help you manage seasonal allergies or sinus problems.
5. Contact lenses use
Wearing contact lenses can sometimes irritate your eyes. You may experience these symptoms if you're trying contacts for the first time or after testing out a new type of contact lens. Prescription eye drops can help lubricate your eyes and prevent irritation.
6. Eye surgery
Eye surgery often affects your body's ability to produce natural tears. In most cases, this side effect is temporary, although dry eyes can sometimes persist for weeks or months after surgery. If you're experiencing dry eyes after your surgery, notify your eye doctor.
Possible Health Conditions Related to Dry Eyes
Diabetes can cause permanent vision damage. If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, tell your doctor about any changes in your vision. Symptoms like dry or itchy eyes can be a sign that your diabetes is not sufficiently controlled. Your doctor can recommend treatments to manage your blood sugar. Regular eye exams can also help screen for diabetes-related vision problems.
2. Thyroid disorders
Thyroid disorders often affect your tear, sweat, and saliva production. People with low thyroid levels, or hypothyroidism, often experience dry skin or eyes. If your doctor suspects a thyroid disorder, a blood test can confirm the diagnosis. Most thyroid conditions can be successfully treated with prescription medications.
3. Autoimmune disease
Many autoimmune conditions can dry out your eyes. Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks and damages healthy tissue. In some cases, your body can attack the glands that produce tears. Autoimmune diseases can sometimes be difficult to manage. If your condition is causing dry eyes, your doctor may suggest visiting a specialist. Your specialist can help you explore new methods of controlling your immune system.
4. Vitamin A deficiency
If you aren't getting enough vitamin A, dry eyes are often one of the first symptoms. Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that protects your vision. Left untreated, vitamin A deficiency can result in blindness.
This condition is rare in developed nations, but children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and people with gastrointestinal issues may still be at risk. Your doctor can run a blood test to screen for various nutritional deficiencies. If you're deficient in certain nutrients, dietary supplements may help resolve the problem.
Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Dry Eyes
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Do your eyes feel itchy or sandy?
- What makes your symptoms better or worse?
- Do you suffer from seasonal allergies?
- Have you noticed any changes in your vision?
- Have you noticed any discharge from your eyes?
- What at-home treatments have you tried?
Dry Eyes May Also Be Known as:
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
- Keratitis sicca
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- American Optometric Association. Dry eyes. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye
- National Eye Institute. Facts about diabetic disease.https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy
- Medline Pluse. Diabetic eye problems. https://medlineplus.gov/diabeticeyeproblems.html
- Healthline. 10 signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/hypothyroidism-symptoms#section7
- Healthline. 8 signs and symptoms of vitamin A deficiency. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/vitamin-a-deficiency-symptoms