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Causes of Dry Eyes: Keeping Your Eyes Healthy By Daniel J Tepper on July 31, 2018

Dry red eyesDry eye can be uncomfortable and annoying. When it strikes, you might spend a while looking for eye drops or any sort of relief from the itchiness and scratchiness you’re experiencing. Thankfully there are options for managing dry eye, and our Chicago, IL can help.

Before looking at the need for professional dry eye treatment, you may be able to avoid dry eye by identifying causes an triggers. Let’s cover some of the most common reasons why dry eye occurs.

What Are Tears Exactly?

Let’s start with the basics. Tears are a source of moisture and lubrication for the eyes. Tears are comprised of the following components:

  • Water for moisture
  • Oils for lubrication
  • Mucus for proper spreading
  • Antibodies to prevent infection

Problems with any of these components or the process of tear production itself can result in dry eye.

Problems with Tear Production

If you are not able to produce enough tears, this can lead to varying degrees of dry eye. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. Some causes of poor tear production include:

  • The aging process
  • Tear gland inflammation
  • Laser eye surgery
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid problems
  • Use of medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure drugs, and antidepressants

Problems with Tear Composition

Imbalances in the water, oil, and mucus levels of your tears can lead to problems with the overall effectiveness of your tears in lubricating the eyes. In these cases, you may be able to experience watery eyes, but the tears do not coat and protect the eyes in the most effective manner.

These tear composition problems could be the result of clogged glands, inflammation of the eyelids, and skin disorders.

Issues with Tear Evaporation

If tears evaporate early, they won’t be able to provide the protection and moisture your eyes need. Some potential causes of tear evaporation include:

  • Wind
  • Smoke
  • Dry atmosphere
  • Reduced blinking
  • Eyelid problems

Risk Factors for Dry Eye

Dry eye may be more common if the following factors are present:

  • Advanced age
  • Gender (more likely in women)
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Laser eye surgery

Prevention and Management of Dry Eye

There are a few options to consider to avoid dry eye attacks. For one, if you notice smoky or dry environments trigger bouts of dry eye, do your best to avoid these places. Consider wearing sunglasses when you’re outdoors to protect your eyes from direct sun and wind exposure.
If you are staring at a screen for prolonged amounts of time, try to look away every 20 minutes at a space 20 feet away from you for 20 seconds. This can rest your eyes and ensure you’re blinking at a normal rate.

If you suffer from dry eye attacks regularly, consider carrying artificial tears with you at all times. Using these eye drops periodically can prevent a sudden and unwanted bout of dry eye.

When Is Professional Dry Eye Treatment Necessary?

If regular at-home management of your dry eye is ineffective, or the dry eye is especially severe, it’s a good idea to talk to an eye care specialist about your problem. We can create a custom treatment plan to address your needs and keep your eyes healthy.

Learn More About Treating Dry Eye

For more information about the causes of dry eye and how it can be managed and treated, be sure to contact the team at Wicker Park Eye Center. Our team is here to help you experience comfort as well as good vision.

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Wicker Park Eye Center

At Wicker Park Eye Center in Chicago, IL, Dr. Daniel J. Tepper, a board-certified ophthalmologist and Parisha Shah, fellowship-trained optometrists, provide patient-centric eye care. Our affiliations include:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO)
  • American Medical Association (AMA)
  • American Optometric Association (AOA)

To schedule an appointment at our eye clinic, please contact us online or call (773) 376-2020.

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"I have visited Wicker Eye Park Center a few times, with each visit I have received excellent service. Dr. Tepper is the best ophthalmologist that I have seen in many years. He, like his staff, is also courteous respectful and very professional." Juan B.

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