Almost everyone suffers from occasional eye dryness after a long day of staring at a screen or walking in the wind. When dry eyes become a constant annoyance, however, there is generally an underlying medical cause to blame. Some causes of chronic dry eye are rather harmless, while others require specialized care. Look over this list of possible causes, and then make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or physician to confirm your diagnosis and make sure you receive your proper treatment.
Prior Eye Surgeries
Many eye surgeries, including LASIK and PRK corrective surgeries, have chronic dry eye as a common consequence. If you had one of these surgeries (even if it was years ago) your tear ducts may simply not be producing enough tears to keep your eyes lubricated. If your eye doctor determines that your dry eyes are a side effect of a prior surgery, he or she may prescribe a medication to increase tear production, or insert plugs in your tear ducts to prevent your tears from being reabsorbed so quickly.
Dry eyes are often a sign of menopause. If you are a female who is approaching menopause and you eyes have recently begun to feel dry, discuss this symptom with your physician. Depending on your circumstances, he or she may either recommend hormone replacement therapy or dry eye medications to make you more comfortable.
Antihistamine medications are great for relieving itchy eyes and allergy symptoms, but in some patients, they do cause chronic dry eye as a side effect. Some patients also experience eye pain and blurry vision. Talk to your physician or look at sites like http://www.drgrantmdretinalspecialist.com if you think your dry eyes are a consequence of your allergy medications. He or she may switch you to a different medication that is less likely to cause eye dryness. If the symptoms don't subside, it's wise to see your eye doctor to make sure an underlying eye condition, such as inflamed tear ducts or prior eye surgery, is not contributing to your eye dryness.
Inflamed Tear Ducts
When your tear ducts become inflamed, they produce fewer tears than normal. There are several possible reasons for inflammation of the tear ducts. These include allergies, cancerous and non-cancerous growths in the tear duct tissue, and reactions to contact lenses. Your eye doctor can look at your tear ducts closely and determine if they're inflamed. If they are, he or she will further examine you and discuss your medical history to determine the underlying cause of your inflamed tear ducts.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can cause systemic inflammation, including inflammation of the tear ducts that leads to dry eye. Every case of lupus is different, and each patient experiences different symptoms. In addition to dry eyes, common symptoms include a rash across the face, painful joints, chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and fever. If you think lupus may be to blame for your dry eyes, contact your physician. There's no cure for lupus, but there are medications that can ease your symptoms and make you far more comfortable.
Your thyroid gland secretes hormones that regulate nearly every aspect of your body's metabolism. If your thyroid begins releasing too much or not enough of these hormones, a whole range of symptoms may appear. These may include rapid weight loss or weight gain, fatigue, hair loss and dry skin. Luckily, most thyroid disorders are treatable. Artificial hormone supplements can correct for an underactive thyroid, and portions of an overactive thyroid can be removed surgically to restore healthy levels of thyroid hormones.
Dry eyes are a symptom you should not ignore. Nearly every case is treatable, so don't hesitate to seek attention so you can get back to feeling like yourself as soon as possible.