What Is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is usually the result of a salt imbalance in your tears. As eyes become dry, they lose water and become too salty. And, just like when you throw salt on a wound, they sting and burn.
According to the National Eye Institute, dry eye is one of the most common medical conditions among American adults.
What are some common symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye can feel differently for each person, but all will share some common sensations. Here are the most common symptoms of dry eyes:
- Dryness or eyes feeling sandy
- Blurry vision
- Grittiness, like something is stuck in your eye
- Sensitivity to light, wind or smoke
- A stinging or burning sensation in your eye
- Tired or heavy feeling in the eyes
- Watery eyes or excess tearing
What Causes Dry Eye?
Dry eye can result from a number of causes, including both physical and environmental conditions. This occurs when your eyes don’t make enough tears or when your eyes don’t produce enough quality tears.
Here are a few of the reasons why you are likely to experience dry eye.
Age and Gender
As we age, we produce fewer tears and become more susceptible to dry eye. Most people over age 50 are likely to have dry eye.
Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes. Pregnancy, menopause, and the use of oral contraceptives can increase your chances of developing dry eye.
Environmental ConditionsLiving or working in polluted conditions or smoky, windy, and dry climates can increase your chances of developing dry eyes.
MedicationsMany medications list dry eye as a symptom. These include antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, hormone replacement therapies, and antidepressants.
Health ConditionsPeople with certain health conditions, especially autoimmune conditions, are more likely to develop dry eye symptoms. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems, glaucoma, and Sjogren’s Syndrome, as well as many others. Inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) or the out-turning or in-turning of the eyelids can cause friction and dry eyes as well.
Technology UseExcessive technology use and extra screen time reduce the natural blinking of the eyes, which can lead to dry eyes.
Other FactorsThe long-term use of contact lenses can lead to dry eyes, especially if you do not clean them properly. LASIK surgery can also cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.
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