Keep Your Eyes Healthy: Understanding the Causes of Dry Eyes By Walter Choate on September 16, 2022

A woman with red, irritated, dry eyesDry eyes that sting, burn, look, and feel irritated can impact quality of life, making it difficult to focus on tasks and uncomfortable to keep the eyes open. Dry eye treatment can alleviate the discomfort of dry eyes and improve eye health.

There are many possible causes of dry eyes. Understanding the causes of dry eyes is key to keeping your eyes healthy. Serving Nashville, TN, Goodlettsville, TN, Hendersonville, TN, and surrounding areas, Dr. Walter Choate provides examinations to determine the causes of dry eyes and how best to treat the condition. For help treating your dry eyes, we welcome you to schedule a consultation.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

The eyes are protected by a three-layered film called the tear film. The three layers are made of fatty oils, aqueous fluid (saline), and mucus. The film layer helps keep the eyes lubricated and helps to wash dirt or other small debris from the eyes. When there’s a disruption in one or more of the layers, it can cause dry eyes.

There are many factors that can affect the tear film production that causes dry eyes, such as autoimmune diseases, hormone changes, or even inflammation of the glands of the eyelids.

Decreased Tear Production

For some people, dry eyes are caused by decreased tear production. What this means is that there isn’t a sufficient amount of tears forming to keep the eyes lubricated.

A decrease in tear production can occur as a result of:

  • Aging
  • Certain medications, including birth control, decongestants, and high blood pressure medications
  • Certain medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and thyroid disorders

Rapid Tear Evaporation

Sometimes dry eyes are caused as a result of the tears evaporating quickly. Rapid tear evaporation is usually a result of the ratio of fatty oils, mucus, and aqueous fluid being off.

Some causes of rapid tear evaporation include:

  • Blocked meibomian glands, which produce the oils in the tear film
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Not blinking enough
  • Exposure to wind, dry air, or smoke

Issues with Tear Composition

The tears are made of saline, oils, and mucus. These substances need to have the right balance to keep the eyes lubricated and comfortable. If something is off with one or more of these three substances, it can cause dry eyes.

Tear composition issues may be caused by:

  • Aging
  • Blocked or dysfunctioning meibomian gland
  • Certain medications and medical conditions
  • Exposure to dry air

Protect Eye Health by Treating Dry Eyes

Leaving dry eyes untreated can increase the risk of eye infections, damage to the surface of the eyes, and difficulty completing every day tasks. It’s important to seek treatment for dry eyes to protect eye health and improve quality of life.

Following these tips can help keep your eyes healthy when experiencing dry eyes:

  • See an eye doctor to determine the cause of your dry eyes and to receive personalized treatment
  • Add moisture to the air with a humidifier
  • Avoid smoke
  • Rest your eyes when reading, working, or in any task where the eyes are kept open for prolonged periods
  • Use artificial tears or eye drops

Contact Choate Eye Associates

If you are experiencing dry eyes and would like to learn more about treatment options and keeping your eyes healthy, please call (615) 851-7575 or contact us online.

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Dr. Choate

Choate Eye Associates

Choate Eye Associates has been delivering high-quality, compassionate eye care to the Nashville community since 1979. We are affiliated with various leading organizations in the field, including: 

  • American Academy of Optometry
  • American Optometric Association 
  • National Board of Examiners in Optometry 

To schedule a consultation at our practice, call us at (615) 851-7575 or request an appointment online

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"I am very pleased with the attention I received at Choate Eye Associates. Dr. Choate is very thorough and does a wonderful job of explaining what he is doing and what he is looking for in the exam." Dianal - Comprehensive Eye Care Patient

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