Dry eyes: What are the possible causes?

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Dry eyes can be categorized as temporary and chronic. If temporary, it is easy to treat by dealing with the cause of irritation or changing the environment or daily habits. As for chronic cases, it might be due to an underlying cause.


Close look on dry eyes

Always bear in mind that there should be equal amounts of mucus, water and oil in the tears. If there is an imbalance, it can lead to dry eyes.

If an individual has dry eyes, he/she might have some of the following symptoms:

  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • Eye discomfort when wearing contacts
    Always bear in mind that there should be equal amounts of mucus, water and oil in the tears. If there is an imbalance, it can lead to dry eyes.
  • Tired or heavy eyes
  • Excess production of tears
  • Redness, irritation and pain in the eyes
  • Gritty sensation in the eyes
  • Inability to produce tears
  • Difficulty reading from a computer screen
  • String-like secretions from the eyes

If more than one of these symptoms have persisted for some time, it might be an indication of chronic dry eyes.

Common causes

There are various reasons why one ends up with chronic dry eyes.

Environmental factors

  • Eye makeup – once particles from makeup enter the tear film, they can thin down the oil in the tears. Avoid using eye mascara, liner and powder eye shadows to reduce the symptoms.
  • Dry, smoky or windy environment – this causes the tears to evaporate rapidly, leading to dry eyes. A cool mist humidifier should be used in the house.
  • Infrequent blinking – this is due to staring at a page or screen for extended periods or while performing tasks that can dry out the eyes.
  • Using contact lenses for long periods – long-term use of contacts can thin out the tear film over the cornea.


Certain medications can dry out the sinuses that results to dry eyes.

  • Sleeping pills
  • Antihistamines
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Anxiety medications
  • High blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers and diuretics

Bodily changes

Certain changes in the body can lead to dry eyes. It can occur as a side effect of hormonal changes such as being pregnant, menopause or using birth control pills.

As one starts to age, the risk is increased, especially adults over 50 years of age.

Medical conditions

Various medical conditions and procedures can lead to dryness of the eyes. Some of the conditions that can lead to dry eyes include:

  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Lupus
  • Blepharitis
  • Thyroid issues
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Damage to the tear glands
  • Rosacea and other inflammatory skin issues
  • Blockage or inflammation of the Meibomian gland

Proper treatment of these conditions can resolve dry eyes.

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