Dry Eye is caused primarily by:
- Unstable or poor quality tear film, also called Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE)
- Insufficient tears, also called Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye (ADE)
Other factors may also contribute to dry eyes symptoms:
- Age – dry eyes are a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
- Gender – women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives and menopause.
- Medications – certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce tear production.
- Medical conditions – people with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, in-turning/out-turning of the eyelids (ectropion/entropion) or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can cause dry eyes to develop.
- Environmental conditions – exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen, iPad or smartphone for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
- Contact lens use or previous history of eye surgery – long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.