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What causes dry eye?

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that occurs when your eyes don't produce enough tears or when the quality of your tears is poor. This can lead to discomfort, irritation, and in severe cases, potential damage to the surface of the eyes. Understanding the causes and contributing factors of dry eye syndrome is crucial for effective management and treatment. Let's delve into what exactly causes this condition.

Environmental Factors

One of the primary causes of dry eye is exposure to environmental conditions that can evaporate the tears or disrupt the tear film. Factors such as dry air, windy conditions, and high altitude can accelerate tear evaporation, leading to dryness and irritation. Additionally, exposure to smoke, dust, and air pollution can exacerbate dry eye symptoms by irritating the eyes and triggering inflammation.


As we age, the production of tears tends to decrease, and the composition of tears may change, making them less effective at lubricating the eyes. This natural aging process can contribute to the development of dry eye syndrome, particularly in individuals over the age of 50.

Hormonal Changes

Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as those experienced during menopause or pregnancy, can affect the production of tears and the stability of the tear film. This hormonal imbalance can lead to dryness, irritation, and a higher likelihood of developing dry eye syndrome.


Certain medications can have side effects that disrupt tear production or quality, leading to dry eye symptoms. Common culprits include antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and medications for high blood pressure and acne.

Medical Conditions

Various medical conditions can increase the risk of developing dry eye syndrome. Autoimmune diseases such as Sjögren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus can affect the function of the tear glands and lead to decreased tear production. Other conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, and vitamin deficiencies may also contribute to dry eye symptoms.

Extended Screen Time

In today's digital age, many people spend prolonged periods staring at screens, whether it's computers, smartphones, or tablets. This can lead to decreased blink rates and incomplete blinking, which can disrupt the distribution of tears across the surface of the eyes, resulting in dryness and discomfort.

Dry eye syndrome can be caused by a combination of factors, including environmental conditions, aging, hormonal changes, medications, underlying medical conditions, and lifestyle factors. By understanding these causes and addressing them appropriately, individuals can take proactive steps to manage and alleviate dry eye symptoms. If you're experiencing persistent dry eye symptoms, call us! We are here to help and early intervention can help prevent further discomfort and potential complications associated with dry eye syndrome.

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