Dry eye is a very common disease and so are its causes. Many of our everyday activities and environmental surroundings can cause a decrease in our tear production or an unhealthy tear film leading to dry eye. Below are some of the common causes of dry eye.
Long-term, continual use of contact lenses can cause dry eye.
LASIK and eye surgeries
Many patients experience dry eye after having LASIK or other eye surgeries, such as cataract surgery and lens replacement. Dry eye often goes away within 3 – 6 months after surgery. Sometimes, it lasts longer.
As we grow older, our eyes make fewer tears, which can lead to dry eye. Many women entering menopause experience dry eye due to hormonal changes.
When you are inside a home or an office, too much heat, air conditioning, or other forms of forced air can cause dry eye. Long-term viewing of a computer screen, television, or other digital monitor can also cause your eyes to become dry and tired. When you are outside, increased levels of wind, dust, heat, or smog can irritate your eyes and lead to significant dryness.
Consuming too much alcohol causes the body to become dehydrated. Dehydration from alcohol consumption can cause dry eyes.
Computer Vision Syndrome
American Optometric Association defines this as a group of eye and vision-related problems that result from prolonged computer use. Many individuals experience eye discomfort and vision problems when viewing a computer screen for extended periods. The level of discomfort appears to increase with the amount of computer use. Related symptoms are eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dry eyes, and neck and shoulder pain.
Many eye drops contain preservatives. Long-term use of eye drops that contain a preservative called benzalkonium chloride (BAK) have been shown to damage the surface of the eye and contribute to dry eye disease.
Medicines such as allergy drugs, blood pressure medications (beta blockers), and birth control pills can cause dry eye. Be sure to tell your eye care specialist about all the medicines you are taking, including the medicines you can buy at the store without a prescription, for example, aspirin or allergy pills.
Diet and nutrition are important to your overall body’s health, including your eyes. Taking supplements that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or cod liver oil, and in Vitamins A, B, C, and E can help keep your eyes nourished and healthy.
Frequent eye and eyelid infections
Frequent infections in your eyes or eyelids can clog your eyes’ tear glands, causing dry eye.
Other medical conditions
Conditions such as arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, or Sjögren's syndrome can cause swelling, redness, and pain in the tear glands.