In our Dry Eye Clinic, one of the most common questions I am asked is:
“What has caused me to have severe dry eyes?”
Understandably, most sufferers want to have more insight into why they have developed what is often a most debilitating condition. Unfortunately though, it is rarely easy to give a straightforward answer; for most people, it is not one, but a combination of dry eyes causes which have tipped them over the edge and let to the annoying symptoms of dry eyes.
There are however several risk factors which can make you more susceptible:
- Ageing, whilst many young people develop dry eyes, there is no doubt that dry eyes is part of the ageing process, the majority of people over 65 experience some form of dry eyes.
- Gender, women are more likely to suffer due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, oral contraceptives and menopause.
- Medication, certain medicines including antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medication, HRT and decongestants can all reduce tear production.
- Medical Conditions, sufferers of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogrens disease, diabetes and thyroid problems are at a higher risk of developing dry eyes.
- Environmental conditions – exposure to wind, smoke and dry climates can lead to symptoms of dry eyes.
- Also, inadequate blinking, especially during prolonged computer use has a detrimental effect.
Secondary to other ocular factors, dry eyes can be caused as a result of prolonged contact lens wear, or secondary to laser eye surgery. Also due to problems with the eyelids turning in or out, or blepharitis, or inflammation of the eyelids or surfaces of the eyes.
In conclusion, there are many factors which can contribute to Dry Eye Disease. For most people it is not just one problem, but several, which eventually make them aware of having a problem. Sometimes action can be taken to eliminate a risk factor but if not, then there are dry eye treatments available to help. It is always advisable to have a Dry Eye assessment in order that the correct treatment can be tailored to your needs.