6 Conditions That Cause Dry Eye
While anyone can develop Dry Eye Syndrome, there are certain conditions that put you more at risk, whether it’s long-term or temporarily.
In this article, we list some of the most common conditions that cause Dry Eye symptoms, as well as providing tips to relieve your symptoms.
Sjogren’s Syndrome affects fluids in the body like tears and spit. The condition can cause dryness all over the body, including your eyes. There is no cure for the syndrome and the symptoms can be quite uncomfortable. There are a few things you can do to ease your symptoms including protecting your eyes from the environment with sunglasses, limiting reading and screen time and not smoking or drinking alcohol. Medication and eye drops can help with maintaining the moisture in your eyes if you have Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks cells that line the joints by mistake, which makes them more painful and stiff. In some people, this condition can cause inflammation in other areas of the body, including the eyes. When there is inflammation in the eyes, it can affect the tear ducts which causes them to produce less tears. In addition, it can also affect the production of all 3 layers of the tear film will are essential for optimal comfort and moisture, which can also make your eyes feel more dry. Although there is no cure, if you’re suffering with Rheumatoid Arthritis you can take medications to help your symptoms and slow the progression of the condition. This in turn should help reduce your chances of inflammation in your eyes and therefore prevent Dry Eye.
Nocturnal Lagophthalmos (Sleeping With Eyes Slightly Open)
Did you know that 20% of people, including babies, sleep with their eyes slightly open? There are a few reasons why this may happen, but some people are simply just born with issues that prevent them from closing their eyes completely. It can also occur if you suffer from a condition that affects the nerves in your face, which can be caused by a stroke, serious injury or Bell’s Palsy.
If your eyes can’t close properly they will dry out, as blinking will be less effective. This is especially the case if you’re sleeping with open eyes, as dust and dirt can enter the eye easier whilst you sleep. Nocturnal Lagophthalmos doesn’t prevent you from sleeping, however as it causes dry eyes and irritation, it can make you more restless.
There are treatments to help the problem, as your doctor can give you eye drops or ointments to prevent your eyes from becoming dry. There’s even an option for your doctor to give you a small weight or medical tape to keep your eyes fully closed while you sleep. You should not ignore the condition as it can cause more complications like vision loss, if you don’t seek treatment.
Allergies like Hay Fever can trigger symptoms of Dry Eye. Doing outdoor activities when pollen is high in the atmosphere can worsen your symptoms and set off your allergies. These symptoms include eye itchiness and dry eyes. To avoid your reaction to allergens, avoid going outside when you feel your allergies flare up, and prevent yourself from doing activities such as gardening when you feel your eyes become itchy or dry. You can also take allergy medication to help relieve your eye irritation.
The surgery can cause Dry Eye symptoms as it can make the lipid layer of the eye, that stabilises the tear film, thinner. Therefore, the tear film can become unstable and result in creating drier eyes. Dry eyes after cataract surgery may also be due to corneal nerve damage, light exposure, inflammation and medicated eye drops as a result of the surgery itself.
Post-surgery Dry Eye symptoms are usually temporary but can be very uncomfortable. The symptoms of Dry Eye after cataracts can be:
- Eye pain
- Burning sensation in the eye
- Higher sensitivity to wind and light
- Feeling like you have something stuck in your eye
- Blurry vision
Blepharitis is not a serious condition, however it can cause uncomfortable symptoms that include dry eyes. Blepharitis symptoms include swollen and itchy eyes, gritty feeling in the eyes and eyelids sticking together.
You can treat Blepharitis by cleaning your eyelids twice a day, then once your symptoms improve, you drop this down to once a day. To stop further irritation, use a soft flannel or cotton wool when cleaning your eyes. You should avoid wearing contact lenses and makeup while you have Blepharitis to prevent making your symptoms worse.
We hope this article has helped you to recognise the conditions that may be causing your Dry Eye, and how you can help ease your symptoms.
In most cases, the best way to treat dry eyes, Also known as dry eye syndrome, is to use eye gel or eye drops.
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- NHS England, ‘Sjögren’s syndrome’, Accessed July 2022
- NHS England, ‘Rheumatoid arthritis’, Accessed July 2022
- Seltman, Whitney. ‘Dry Eye and Inflammation’, WebMD, 09/05/22, Accessed July 2022
- NHS England, Rheumatoid arthritis, Accessed July 2022
- Benisek, Alexandra. ‘Can You Sleep With Your Eyes Open?’, WebMD, 14/07/20, . Accessed July 2022
- Ellis, Mary-Ellen. ‘Managing Dry Eyes in Every Season’, Healthline, 20/08/18, Accessed July 2022
- Nunez, Kirsten. ‘Is It Normal to Have Dry Eyes After Cataract Surgery?’, Healthline, 20/10/21, Accessed July 2022
- NHS England, ‘Blepharitis’, Accessed July 2022