Why do I have dry eyes?

Doctor with Dry Eye Chalk Board Sign

When a person has dry eyes, it means that the person has an inadequate amount of tears. Tears spread across the cornea providing clear vision, lubrication, reducing the risk of infection, and washing away any foreign body in the eye. Tears are generated by glands around our eyes and they exit through our tear ducts. If the production of tears and the drainage are balanced then your eye feels comfortable and your corneas are healthy. If there is an unbalance, then you feel the difference and your vision may not be clear. Symptoms of dry eyes are gritty feeling, foreign body sensation, itching, burning, redness, blurry vision, and light sensitivity. Advanced dry eyes may damage your corneas and diminish your vision.

Healthy tears are a mixture of different components:

  • Water (for moisture)
  • Oils (for lubrication)
  • Mucus (for spreading)
  • Antibodies and special proteins for protection against infection

Symptoms of dry eyes:

  • Gritty Feeling
  • Foreign Body Sensation
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Blurry Vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Problems wearing contacts
  • Watering
  • Trouble reading
  • Fatigued eyes at the end of the day

The reason why people have dry eyes:

  • Aging
  • Hormonal changes and menopause
  • Substantial reading and digital device use
  • Living or working on dry environments (low humidity, windy, air conditioning, ceiling fans)
  • Prolonged contact lens use wear
  • LASIK surgery
  • Poor diet (low in fatty acids and antinflamatory)
  • Health conditions (diabetes, arthritis, lupus, Sjogrens syndrome, glaucoma, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid imbalances, and vitamin deficiencies)
  • Medications (antihistamines, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants)
  • Dehydration
  • Frequent flying
  • Smoking

We are fortunate here in Palm Beach not to be exposed to an environment that predisposes dry eye conditions. However, since we travel across our beautiful nation, we should be aware of places where dry eye is more common due to climate conditions.

10 worst cities to live if you have dry eyes

  1. Las Vegas, Nevada
  2. Lubbock, Texas
  3. El Paso, Texas
  4. Midland, Texas
  5. Dallas, Texas
  6. Atlanta, Georgia
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah
  8. Phoenix, Arizona
  9. Amarillo, Texas
  10. Honolulu, Hawaii

How can you relieve your dry eyes?

  • Remember to blink
  • Wear sunglasses outdoors
  • Take supplements with fatty acids
  • Drink plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses a day)
  • Find ways to increase humidity at home and work
  • Warm compresses and lid massages
  • Make sure your eye lids are cleaned regularly
  • Take breaks with extended computer use
  • Adding tears (preservative free tears will be less irritant)

Your eye physician can insert tear plugs in your tear ducts to temporarily block the ducts to enable your natural tears to lubricate your eyes for a longer period before evaporating or going down your natural drainage system. Your doctor can also prescribe medications that increase the production of tears or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around your lids.

Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, however, if you seek help from your optometrist or ophthalmologist, the condition can be easily managed. In the fast-paced world we live in, most of us will have dry eyes from time to time. Remember the symptoms and the easy ways to relieve them. Your eyes will thank you!

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Florida Vision Institute
1515 N. Flagler Dr. Suite 500
West Palm Beach, FL 33401