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Top 5 Causes of Dry Eyes

Top 5 Causes of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes affect a huge number of people every year, and there are several dry eye causes. Some of the causes are easily remedied, while others are chronic and require ongoing treatment to counter.

The basic cause of dry eye syndrome is a lack of a proper tear film. This can result from a general lack of tear production, overly speedy evaporation of the tear film, or defects in the production of one or more of the three layers of liquids that make up tears. The specific reasons for these deficits guide the treatment and prognosis of the condition. Here are some of the top causes of dry eye.

Environmental Stressors

Various problems with your immediate environment can cause a temporary case of dry eyes. In some cases, it may not seem temporary, but that’s because you are being subjected to the same environmental stress every day. Some of these environmental issues include being in air conditioning, being in a building with too little humidity, or being subjected to allergens like dust or pollen.

Low humidity, especially when exacerbated by the dehumidifying effects of air conditioning, makes your tear film evaporate too quickly. Meanwhile, allergies can cause your eyes to make too much of the watery layer of tears, overwhelming the natural oil layer that should also be present. Ironically, the excess watery layer makes your tears evaporate too quickly.


One of the biggest causes of temporary dry eye is staring at a screen for too long. This can be a computer or phone screen, but watching TV can also do it. In these cases, the problem is that you don’t blink enough. Then, new tears aren’t spread over the eyeballs as often as they should be, leading to drying. To counter this problem, remember to blink frequently as you stare at screens, and make a point of taking a break every few minutes.

Functional Problems

When something is functionally wrong with your tear production, it typically results in long-term, or chronic, dry eye. While mild cases can be alleviated by treatments like eye drops, you’ll find that the problem typically doesn’t truly go away. Several problems can cause chronic dry eye.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Also known as posterior blepharitis, this issue involves a failure of the meibomian glands – glands at the edges of your eyelids – to produce the oily layer of your tears. This layer normally prevents the premature evaporation of the watery and mucus layers of tears, which should be below it. When the glands can’t produce enough oil, the rest of your tears quickly evaporate.

Medical Conditions

Reduced tear production is associated with a variety of medical conditions. These include rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and others.

Chronic dry eye can also be caused by vitamin deficiencies. A deficiency in vitamin A is known for causing it, and newer studies point to a connection with vitamin D deficiency and low B-12, as well.

Treatments for Dry Eyes

There are many treatments for dry eye syndrome, and which ones are preferred depend on the cause of the problem. For short-term dry eye caused by low humidity, the best solution is to avoid the low-humidity environment or at least take breaks from it. Also, remember to blink when watching screens, especially if the content is compelling.

Over-the-counter eye drops are often used to combat short-term dry eye. These can be effective, but be careful: the preservatives in some formulations can, over time, actually dry out your eyes.

Chronic dry eye is sometimes treated with prescription eye drops, either alone or with other treatments.

If you are found to have meibomian gland disorder, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) therapy may be recommended. This exposes the glands to special light that gets them working better and reduces clogging in the glands’ ducts. Many people report good results from these treatments.

The best way to get started with correcting your dry eyes is to get an evaluation from an optometrist. This will let you know what causes dry eye in your case. To make an appointment with a doctor in Squamish, call Garibaldi Eye Care today.