6 Top Dry Eyes Causes And How To Avoid Them

Key Takeaways:

  • Dry eyes occur when there are not enough tears or when the tear film that keeps the eyes moist is imbalanced.
  • Like other eye conditions, aging is a significant factor that increases the risk of dry eyes.
  • A proactive approach to eye health can improve your defense against chronic dry eyes.


It’s not fun when your eyes suddenly feel itchy or gritty, which stops you from enjoying a good book or your favorite TV show. If this happens to you often, you may be experiencing dry eyes.

Don’t worry, dry eye disease can be easy to manage, especially when you know what’s causing it. Keep reading to find out what the top dry eyes causes are and how you can address them.


Dry Eyes Syndrome: What You Need to Know


Tears are often associated with crying and negative emotions. However, the eyes get covered with tears more often than you realize. This is a good thing because, for the most part, tears play a vital role in maintaining good vision and fighting dry eyes.

As the name suggests, dry eyes happen when the eyes don’t get enough tears to keep them moist and lubricated. The condition is characterized by dryness in the eyes, but it also often comes with dry, itchy eyes.

Many of the causes of dry eyes can result in temporary issues and irritation. However, other factors like age and certain medical conditions could make it a long-term problem.

Every time you blink, your eyes are covered with tear film. This is necessary to keep the eyes well-lubricated and maintain good vision.

Although tears feel like water, the tear film has three layers that have specific roles in warding off dry eyes.

  • Oily layer: The outermost layer of tear film produced in the meibomian glands that helps slow down the drying process of tears.
  • Watery layer: The middle layer of tear film produced in the lacrimal glands is responsible for cleaning the eyes from external particles.
  • Mucus layer: The inner layer of tear film produced in the conjunctiva that helps the tears evenly spread across the entire eye’s surface.

As you can see, every layer of tear film is important in keeping the eyes moist regularly. When certain parts of the eyes don’t produce enough of any layer of the tear film, tears evaporate faster, leading to dryness and irritation.


Dry Eyes Symptoms


How do you know when you’re experiencing dry eyes? What does having dry eyes feel like?

When the eyes don’t get enough moisture, an itchy, burning sensation may occur. You may also feel scratchy or gritty, as if particles have entered the eye surface. Dry eyes could also lead to redness, making you sensitive to light.

Can dry eyes cause blurry vision? In some cases, yes. Dry eyes may lead to blurred vision, making it difficult to read or drive.

An imbalance of tear film layers is a common cause of dry eyes. You may also notice mucus-like strings in the eyes, or the eyes may also produce excess tears when dry.


Common Dry Eyes Causes


The eyes don’t just stop producing enough lubrication. Various factors could affect the balance of tear film, ranging from age-related causes to environmental factors and underlying medical conditions.

It’s highly important to be aware of what causes dry eyes so that you can make the necessary changes to keep your eyes healthy.


1. Natural Aging Process


Common Dry Eyes Causes


Although anyone can experience dry eyes at any age, it is known to be more common for older adults.

According to the National Eye Institute, people ages 50 and above are more at risk of dry eyes. The risk of dry eyes is said to further increase for both men and women every five years once they reach the age of 50.

The higher risk of dry eyes for older adults could be due to several factors, such as more frequent intake of prescription medicines, oxidative stress, and hormonal changes.

Lid laxity, which is also part of the natural aging process, occurs when the upper or lower eyelid has less elastin content. This leads to sagging, causing the eyelids to move outwards from the eyes.


2. Hormonal Changes


While hormonal changes can be linked to aging, they can also happen to younger adults, especially women. For example, women who are pregnant or take birth control pills are more likely to undergo hormonal changes. These changes and aging increase the risk of dry eyes for women after menopause.

Hormonal changes in both men and women could affect the amount and quality of tears produced in the eyes, making them more susceptible to dry eyes.


3. Environmental Factors


Have you ever wondered what causes dry eyes all of a sudden? The answer could be in your surroundings.

Staying in a dry, indoor environment like a workplace or the rooms in your home could also increase the chances of having dry eyes. This is especially true if you stay in air-conditioned rooms, where the humidity level is typically lower.

However, being in high-altitude or windy places may also cause dry eyes. Sun exposure is also one of the common causes of dry eyes that may be impossible to avoid.

Dry eyes with redness and irritation are also often caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.


4. Digital Eye Strain


Computer screens and electronic devices have become integral to everyone’s lives. For many people, the constant use of computers and other electronics is even part of their job description.

Whether screen time is part of your livelihood or just your way to relax after a busy day, it inevitably exposes you to the possibility of having dry eyes. Many also use their gadgets before bedtime, which could explain why they experience dry eyes at night.

Remember, eye strain is not only caused by screen time. Extended periods of reading a book or studying could strain your eyes. Even wearing contact lenses can cause eye strain.


5. Medications


In some cases, dry eyes may be inevitable because the causes of dry eyes are also essential to one’s health, such as prescription and other types of medications.

Antihistamines or allergy medications are some of the common dry eye causes, along with prescriptions for mood disorders, high blood pressure (beta blockers), oral contraceptives, and diuretics.

Even cold medicines could trigger dry eyes. Glaucoma and retinoid medications may also increase the risk of having dry eyes.

While you shouldn’t abruptly stop taking your medicines, you may consult your healthcare provider for other options if dry eyes start to hinder your daily activities.


6. Medical Conditions



Meibomian gland dysfunction refers to a group of eye diseases that affect the tear glands and can cause quicker tear evaporation. It can result in tear instability, leading to chronic dry eyes and worsening symptoms.

Dry eye disease can be caused by eye infections diseases and other health problems.

Autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus are likely to cause dry eyes because of how they affect the tear glands that produce tears.

Conditions like diabetes and thyroid problems may also cause dry eyes because they could affect certain eye functions, including making tears to keep the eyes lubricated.

Can allergies cause dry eyes, too? In addition to using allergy medications, the cause of the allergy can also lead to dry eyes when it comes in contact with the eyes.

People who experience nocturnal lagophthalmos, the inability to fully close their eyes while sleeping, are more prone to dry eyes in the morning.


Can You Avoid Dry Eyes Syndrome?


It may seem that the causes of dry eyes are everywhere. However, knowing the root of the problem and addressing it can be an important step in reducing the risks of developing dry eyes.


Don’t Forget to Blink


Remember, your eyes get a fresh coat of tears whenever you blink. Blink regularly to stimulate tear production and keep your eyes moist.


Modify Your Environment


You can make some changes in your room, especially if a dry or windy environment causes your dry eyes. For example, setting up a humidifier could help lessen the dryness of the room due to air conditioning.

Smoke is also a common culprit for dry eyes. Try your best to avoid smoke exposure.


Wear Eye Protectors


Protect your eyes when spending some time outdoors. Simply wearing sunglasses to protect the surface of your eyes from UV rays (or even the wind) can be an easy trick to avoid dry eyes.


Stay Hydrated


Does drinking water help dry eyes? Although the link between higher water intake and lower risks of dry eyes is yet to be established, experts still recommend drinking enough water daily to fight dry eyes.


Let Your Eyes Rest


Sometimes, all your eyes need is a little break. Whenever you’re reading a book or have to look at a computer screen for an extended period, don’t forget to take a few minutes of break in between. During these breaks, remember to blink a few times, too.


Try Home Remedies for Dry Eyes


You can also try some at-home remedies to manage dry eyes. Applying warm compresses over the eyes could help stimulate the glands involved in making tear film. It may also provide relief from irritation caused by dry eyes.

You can also try washing your eye area with clean water or a mild cleanser. Take this moment to massage your eyes to improve circulation and tear production gently.

Eye drops are often called artificial tears for a good reason: they have an essential function similar to your tears. Pulling an all-nighter at work or school can easily lead to increased tear evaporation and intensify symptoms of dry eye. This is a good time to use over-the-counter eye drops. It’s best to opt for eye drops without preservatives to avoid exacerbating dry eye symptoms.


Be Mindful of Your Eye Health


Dry Eyes Treatment


Of course, nothing beats a well-rounded approach to eye health. In addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can also turn to dietary supplements designed to support your vision in the long run.

Remember, even with the best practices stated above, some causes of dry eyes come naturally as people age. Supplements with a research-based formula of eye vitamins and antioxidants like iGenics can offer powerful, long-term support for eye health.


Dry Eyes Treatment: What Are Your Options?


For most people, dry eyes can happen occasionally and with milder symptoms. However, in some cases, dry eyes can be a chronic problem that may require eye treatments.

For example, when the dry eye is caused by excess tear drain, your healthcare provider might recommend the painless procedure of placing punctual plugs.

These eye plugs for dry eyes are very small apparatus (as small as a rice grain) typically made of silicone. They are inserted in the punctum, a tiny opening in the inner corners of the eyelids, to manage tear drainage.

Aside from tear duct insertion, prescription eye drops like cyclosporine and lifitegrast may also be used as dry eye treatments.


Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Medical Term for Dry Eyes?


Aside from dry eye syndrome, other medical names for this condition are dry eye disease (DED) or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS).


Can Dry Eyes Cause Blindness?


Dry eyes don’t usually lead to blindness, especially when managed properly and swiftly. However, in rare cases with severe and persistent symptoms, it could result in corneal damage that may cause vision impairment.


Can Dry Eyes Cause Headaches?


Researchers have yet to conclude if dry eyes cause headaches. But there’s some evidence that suggests a link between them. One study with nearly 73,000 volunteers reported that migraine headaches may be associated with dry eye disease.


Do More for Your Eyes


Clear vision is essential for just about any activity in our daily lives. Any obstruction from dry eyes, whether small or fleeting, can be highly inconvenient.

It is crucial to be completely aware of what could cause dry eyes. By knowing these causes, you are better equipped to improve your environment and practices to support your eyes and vision.

Nothing beats a consistent eye health regimen, though. So don’t forget to stay active, eat a balanced diet, and support your eyes with the best supplements to enjoy good vision for as long as possible.




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John Riedl

Simply put that’s why I’ve gone down the health journey of research and creating health brands.

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