What Causes Dry Eye:
The Dry Eye Center At Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C.
The Factors That Can Cause Dry Eyes
Dry Eye Syndrome can be caused by many factors. These include age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, medications, and the overall medical health of your eyes. Regardless of which factor(s) contribute to your Dry Eye Syndrome, the result is a situation where your eyes are either not producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated, or the tears are not formulated with the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication.
This results in the sore, gritty, and painful condition we call Dry Eye Syndrome. Sometimes, basic lifestyle and dietary changes can prevent and even alleviate the symptoms.
Eye surgery, injury, and radiation therapy are the most common medical procedures that can result in dry eyes. If you have ever undergone any medical procedure on or near your eyes, received radiation therapy, or if you notice that your eyes are getting dryer, contact us. The The Dry Eye Center At Washington Eye Doctors has advanced techniques and experience in diagnosing and treating Dry Eye Syndrome.
Dry Eyes After Eye Surgery
Complications from certain medical procedures will very often result in Dry Eye Syndrome. This is especially true for eye surgery, whether due to an injury or medical condition, or elective surgery such as LASIK. Whenever parts of the eye are cut, it is very easy to damage the tear ducts or the meibomian glands —which are essential for producing the lipids (oils) in your tears.
Dry Eyes After Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy or Orbital Radiotherapy very frequently results in Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye Syndrome, a form of dry eyes that results from a reduction in tear production.
Hormonal Changes That Result In Dry Eye
Sharp changes in your body’s hormone levels will often result in an inflammatory response which can result in dry, irritated eyes. Below are some common reasons why people undergo hormonal changes that often cause Dry Eye Syndrome. You don’t have to suffer from dry eyes in silence. Dr. Michael Rosenblatt at the The Dry Eye Center At Washington Eye Doctors will conduct a full assessment and develop a custom treatment plan that’s right for you.
Birth Control and Dry Eyes
Hormonal birth control alters the body’s hormone balance, particularly progesterone. Examples of contraceptives containing hormones include birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings, and certain types of IUDs.
These can cause similar hormonal changes as pregnancy and therefore, can also result in decreased tear production. Less tears means the greater the likelihood that Dry Eye will develop.
If you notice any symptoms such as dryness, itching, burning, or blurriness, you may have Dry Eyes. Fortunately, there are various methods of treating the condition that won’t interfere with your birth control regimen.
Pregnancy and Dry Eye
Just as with many changes that occur in pregnancy, vision changes during this time are usually temporary. You may experience blurred vision, itchiness, burning, or discomfort when wearing contact lenses. Sensitivity to light may begin to affect you as well.
This is quite common and is caused by the hormonal changes in your body. It is often experienced during the end of the first trimester, when the hormones are most active. These hormones can decrease the amount of natural moisture in the eye, leading to Dry Eye. The condition can last throughout the pregnancy, during postpartum recovery, and while the mother is breastfeeding.
Many pregnant women find that applying a warm cloth to their eyes for a few minutes can give them some relief. Others may be advised to use artificial tears during this time. Switching to eyeglasses can also relieve some of the discomfort caused by wearing contacts during the pregnancy and through the first few weeks of postpartum recovery.
Menopause and Dry Eye
Similar to pregnancy, menopausal women also experience changes in their hormones. When going through menopause, your body produces less progesterone, estrogen, and androgens. The latest research indicates that androgens directly affect the delicate balance of tear production. Fewer androgens means the body will produce fewer tears, resulting in Dry Eye. Since women already have less androgens than men, post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible to dry eyes.
The exact treatment for Dry Eye during the menopausal years is a matter of debate. While many eye care practitioners believe that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can alleviate Dry Eyes during menopause, others believe it may increase it. All agree that managing Dry Eye for women during menopause requires a customized treatment plan. Personal lifestyle, time spent outdoors, medication, and nutrition can all play a role in a woman’s health and can impact Dry Eyes.
Living With Dry Eye in Washington, D.C.
While you read or perform any visual task like working on a computer or driving, you tend to blink less. On average, we should typically be blinking once every 3-5 Seconds. However, when looking at a computer monitor, for example, blinking goes down to about 1-2 times a minute. This causes dry eye because the act of blinking is what coats the eye with film from the tears. When engaged in continuous and middle-vision focusing, always remember the 20-20-20 rule: Take a break every 20 minutes to focus on something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
The high energy blue-violet light emitted by modern LED devices is a growing cause of concern as it leads to eye strain, disrupted sleep patterns, and likely long-term damage. Blue light and the resulting eye strain can cause a reduction in tear production resulting in dry, irritated eyes. Take breaks from screen use every 20 minutes or so.
Contact lens wearers often complain about dry eye. This can be exacerbated by improper contact lens hygiene or wearing the contacts too long without a break. For some people who already have an underlying dry eye condition, regular contact lenses are simply too uncomfortable and specialized contact lenses become required. At the , we can help fit you with the right contacts for you to avoid these symptoms.
Eye infections such as conjunctivitis (whether viral or bacterial) can cause significant irritation, infected debris and mucous which can all contribute to dry eyes. The symptoms will usually clear up once the infection does.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD accounts for the majority of cases of Dry Eye Syndrome. This condition occurs when an abnormality or blockage in your inner eyelids prevents the meibomian glands from producing the lipids that are essential for maintaining the optimal balance of tear composition. A shortage of these lipids leads the tears in your eyes to evaporate too quickly and results in dry eyes.
Blepharitis is an inflammation located at the base of the eyelashes, and the area becomes clogged and inflamed by infected debris called scurf. We can treat blepharitis, so contact us if you think you may be suffering from this eye condition.
Omega 3 fatty acids are proven to prevent Dry Eye Syndrome from developing and can even treat mild cases. These fatty acids are essential for tear production and to ease stinging, irritation, and that scratchy feeling that can occur with dry eye. Omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties so you’re also less likely to get infections on the surface of the eye or on your eyelids. If your diet is low in Omega 3, you should consider adding more fish to your diet or taking supplements as needed. We would be more than happy to guide you to the supplements that provide the best sourcing and bio-available Omega 3.
Stress tends to adversely affect the body. Recent studies have shown that stress can even trigger dry eyes, especially if there is a preexisting factor such as a dry and windy environment, gender, hormonal fluctuations or age — all of which can contribute to the development of dry eyes.