Potential Causes of Dry Eyes

Dry  Eyes pic
Dry Eyes
Image: mayoclinic.org

Dr. Anthony Roberts has worked as an eye physician at Shady Grove Ophthalmology in Rockville, Maryland, since 2002. In this position, Dr. Anthony Roberts addresses a number of eye conditions, such as myopia and dry eyes.

While a number of environmental factors can cause a person to experience dry eyes for a period of time, certain medical conditions can lead to a dryness in the eyes that does not dissipate until treated by an eye physician. The primary cause of dry eyes is a lack of tear production. Although some people might assume that tears are simply a mixture of water and salt, tears also contain important fatty oils and mucus that help the eyes maintain a smooth, clear texture. Tears also defend eyes against potential infections.

There are basically two causes of dry eyes. In certain cases, a person is incapable of producing enough tears. Officially known as keratoconjunctivitis, lack of tear production can be attributed to advanced age, medical conditions such as diabetes or vitamin A deficiency, and damage to the tear glands due to inflammation or radiation.

In other cases, a person might produce a sufficient amount of tears, but they may evaporate quicker than normal. These situations are often more temporary than instances of decreased tear production. For instance, wind or smoke in the air can cause tears to evaporate faster than normal, as can periods of intense concentration. However, conditions affecting the eyelids like ectropion and entropion can also lead to tear evaporation.

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