What Causes Dry Eyes & Should I Be Worried?

The condition referred to as “dry eyes” is not uncommon. In fact, most people experience eye dryness at some point in their lives, particularly when staring at a computer screen for too long.

When your dry eye condition becomes chronic is when the worry begins to set in. Are dry eyes permanent, you may wonder? Can they be treated?

The good news is that there are treatments for dry eyes that will allow you to manage your condition. But first, what is dry eyes, and that causes the condition in the first place?

What Causes Eye Dryness?

There are two primary types of dry eyes: evaporative dry eyes and aqueous dry eyes.

Evaporative Dry Eyes: This is the most common form of dry eye that affects almost 90% of dry eye sufferers. The condition is caused by a blockage of the glands that secrete oil onto the eye. Known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) after the meibomian gland that lines the eyelashes, the condition causes tear evaporation that is 4 to 16 times faster than normal.

Aqueous Dry Eyes: This dry eye condition occurs when the lacrimal gland fails to produce enough moisture to keep the eyes lubricated. There are two potential results, a concentrated tear film (hyperosmolarity) and unstable tear film. In both cases, dry eyes are the ultimate result.

The two types of dry eyes can occur simultaneously or in isolation.

Only a qualified eye care doctor can determine the true cause of your dry eyes. However, if you are experiencing eye dryness, how urgent is it that you see a doctor?

Could dry eyes lead to permanent eye damage?

Yes! While dry eyes may be common, you never want to let the condition persist, as permanent eye damage can result.

You may also experience:

  • Eye Infection: Dry eyes can lead to a variety of eye infections, such as blepharitis, which is inflammation of the eyelids, and a condition that is very difficult to manage. You also risk getting infected with Demodex mites, which are parasites that feed on dead skin, oils, and other human matter.  
  • Affected Eyesight: Your dry eyes may cause your vision to appear less sharp, hazy, or you may begin seeing double.
  • Eye Damage: If eye dryness is left untreated, the severe dryness can lead to eye inflammation, corneal ulcer, corneal abrasions, and ultimately blindness.

Is it Dangerous to Have Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes can lead to a decreased quality of life. By allowing the condition to worsen, you are risking your eyesight altogether. At the very least, you may find it difficult to read and watch TV and movies, or otherwise engage in your favorite activities.

At the very worst, dry eyes could lead to infection, vision problems, and complete loss of your eyesight in extreme cases.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to manage and treat your dry eye’s condition.

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Can Dry Eyes Be Cured Naturally?

There are actions you can take to prevent dry eyes from becoming unbearable. For instance, you can do your best to avoid air conditioners, heaters, and fans blowing in your face. You can try to add moisture to the air during the winter months with a humidifier, for example. When heading outside, consider wearing wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from wind and air.

When working with computer screens, take plenty of breaks where you get up and move around (away from the screen) and position the screen below your eye level, which will keep you from opening your eyes too wide, making them drier and redder than they already are.

Finally, carry around a bottle of fake tears, which can wet your eyes instantly, helping you get through the day without redness, dryness, or any other dry eye’s side effects.

What Happens if You Don’t Get Help for Dry Eyes?

Everyone is different, and few dry eye cases are the same. If your dry eyes persist, you can find it difficult to live your life and, ultimately, you may lose sight altogether.

Dry eye care by a qualified professional can give you the treatment you need to manage your dry eyes for years to come.

Whether your dry eyes are a result of age, medication, an ailment, or you are experiencing LASIK dry eyes, contact the Dry Eye Center of Maryland, the home of renowned Dr. Azman. Get help for your dry eyes and call today for a free consultation.

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