Causes of dry eyes

    The first thing we do upon waking up is opening our eyes and seeing the world around us. Eyesight is a great gift for humankind that many take for granted because they do not need any medicine. Eye problems such as dry eyes can cause great discomfort and even vision problems. People with dry eyes will feel their eyes burning, stinging, red eyes, feeling scratchy as if something in the eye or abnormal eye pain to the light.

    What can cause dry eyes?

1-Insufficient tears: Tears come from several glands around the eye area. Reduced tear production will cause the eye to be less lubricated. Any conditions that interfere with the gland producing tears will cause dry eyes symptoms.

2-Poorly tear quality: Tears are made up of oil, water and mucus. Each of the three layers serve different functions. The oil layer helps reduce evaporation of the eye’s natural tears by sealing the tear film. Water helps to lubricate the eyes while providing nutrients important for the eyes. This specific layer also helps to wash away any impurities and fight against infection. The mucus layer helps tear to spread evenly on the eye surface thus helps in eye lubrication. If any of the layers are disrupted, dry eyes can easily develop.

    Who is at risk of getting dry eyes?

1-Older people: Dry eyes often occur in those ages 65 and above. As a person ages, so does their body. The ageing process causes dry eyes as the tear production tends to slow down and less tears are produced.

2-Woman: Pregnancy, menopause and oral contraceptive causes dry eyes due to hormonal changes. The hormonal changes cause eyelid glands to produce less oil layer. The reduced oil layer will increase tear evaporation.

3-Medication: Medicine such as decongestant, antihistamine, antidepressant, pain killer and blood pressure medication like beta-blocker or diuretic, may interfere with the protein of the cell that affects the gland from producing the tear film layers.

4-Underlying medical conditions: Dry eyes can easily happen for people with diabetes, lupus diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid diseases.

5-Environmental factor: Weather or climate can cause dry eyes. Climates such as cold, windy, dry and smoke causes more tears to evaporate from the eye. Long screen time causes less blinking due to long staring. Blinking is important for the eye to remove any contaminants in the eye by washing it away with fresh tears. Thus, less blinking means eyes are less lubricated and tears are prone to be evaporated excessively.

6-Diet: People taking meals with low vitamin A tend to have dry eyes. Some of the subtle signs of someone with low vitamin A aside from dry eyes are dry scaly skin and blurry eyesight. Thus, it is advised to have food rich in vitamin A such as cheese, egg, fatty fish like salmon, liver, spinach, carrots, mango and papaya.

7- Contact lens user: Long wearing of contact lenses or improper fit lenses can cause dry eyes problems. Contact lenses contain high water to help oxygen to flow into the cornea. Oxygen is essential for cornea as it helps to focus light rays onto the back of our eyes (retina) to help us see much better and clearer. Prolong use of contact lenses will lead to lenses’ water loss and it will draw the water from the natural eye’s tear film.

8-Alcohol and smoke: Alcohol causes dehydration of the body and prevents the body from absorbing vitamins through daily meals. These conditions lead to dry eyes due to insufficient production of tear and the vitamin needed for eyes.

    Dry eyes may seem a harmless condition but if left untreated can cause eye infection, eye ulcer and even vision loss. Hence, it is important to make sure our eyes are healthy by eating a balanced diet and protecting our eyes from damages such as prolonged sunlight by wearing glasses and be careful with use of artificial tear drops. Consult your physicians for more information.

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By Cary Grant

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