Dry eye disease is a common condition. It occurs when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Many people suffer with dry eyes. Dry eyes can feel very uncomfortable with symptoms including stinging, burning, hurting and sensitivity to lights.
More often, dry eyes symptoms occur if you don’t produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears. Tears can be inadequate and unstable for many reasons.
This tear instability leads to inflammation and damage of the eye’s surface.
Certain situations, such as computer work, reading, being on an airplane or in an air-conditioned room may exacerbate the problem.
People who have dry eyes usually experience a decreased quality of life. Dry eyes can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading and watching TV.
Dry eyes are caused by a variety of reasons that disrupt the healthy tear film.
Your tear film has three layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid and mucus. This combination normally keeps the surface of your eyes lubricated, smooth and clear. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eyes.
Reasons for tear film dysfunction are many. For most people, the cause of dry eyes can be mostly attributed to decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation, most commonly due to age, certain medications or lifestyle.
Factors that make it more likely that you’ll experience dry eyes include:
- Being older than 50 as tear production tends to diminish as you get older.
- Being a woman. A lack of tears is more common in women, especially if they experience hormonal changes due to pregnancy, using birth control pills or menopause.
- Eating a diet that is low in vitamin A.
- Wearing contact lenses or having a history of refractive surgery.