How Does Dry Eye Happen & Why?
Explore the causes and solutions for dry eye syndrome, including the role of aging, hormonal changes, and environmental factors. Learn how vitamins A, C, E, zinc, lutein, and zeaxanthin support eye health and prevent dryness. Perfect for those over 50, women, and contact lens wearers seeking relief.
Published February 19, 2024
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the editor(s), author(s) nor publisher(s) take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.
Have you ever wondered why your eyes sometimes feel as if they've been caught in a desert storm?
Dry eye syndrome is a condition that can leave your eyes feeling scratchy, sore, and blurry, and it's a puzzle that involves various pieces of your body's natural systems.
As we get older, the lacrimal gland, which hydrates our eyes, starts to slack off in water production.
This slowdown paves the way for dry eye syndrome, alongside making us more prone to eyelid irritation known as blepharitis.
Furthermore, the meibomian glands, responsible for the oily part of our tears, can become inflamed, leading to blockages and exacerbating dry eye symptoms.†
The Science of Tears
At the heart of dry eye syndrome is a disruption in the tear film that coats the eye.
This film is a sophisticated mix of fatty oils, water, and mucus, working in harmony to keep our eyes moist, smooth, and clear.
When there's a hiccup in any of these layers, dry eyes can result.†
What Triggers Dry Eye Syndrome?
There are several culprits behind tear film dysfunction, ranging from hormonal shifts and eyelid inflammation to allergies.
Two main issues can arise: decreased tear production and increased tear evaporation.
Decreased Tear Production can stem from:
Aging, which naturally diminishes tear production.†
Health conditions such as thyroid disorders or vitamin A deficiencies.†
Certain medications, like antihistamines or hormone therapies.†
Long-term use of contact lenses or aftereffects of laser eye surgeries reducing corneal nerve sensitivity.†
Increased Tear Evaporation may be due to:
Infrequent blinking, often while reading, driving, or staring at screens.†
Eyelid abnormalities, including ectropion (outward-turning lids) or entropion (inward-turning lids).†
Environmental factors like wind, smoke, or dry climates.†
Eye allergies or the use of eye drops containing preservatives.†
Who's at Risk?
Dry eye syndrome doesn't play favorites, but some folks are more likely to experience it:
Individuals over 50, as tear production naturally declines with age.†
Women, particularly those undergoing hormonal changes related to pregnancy, contraception, or menopause.†
People with diets low in vitamin A, crucial for eye moisture and light absorption.†
Contact lens wearers.†
Nutrients for Eye Health
Keeping your eyes healthy and warding off dryness isn't just about managing symptoms.
Certain vitamins and minerals play a key role in eye health:
Vitamin A: Essential for seeing in low light and keeping eyes moist.†
Vitamin C: Shields your eyes from UV damage.†
Vitamin E: Protects the retina and eye cells from damage by free radicals.†
Zinc: Assists vitamin A in producing melanin, a protective pigment, and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.†
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Carotenoids that guard against free radicals and protect the retinas.†
Dry eye syndrome is a complex issue with many potential causes, but understanding these underlying factors can help you address the discomfort and protect your vision.
Incorporating a diet rich in specific nutrients can also play a vital role in maintaining eye health and function.