Dry eye can stem from a number of causes, from your environment to drug therapy to aging. In fact, the normal aging process is the primary cause of dry eye– people over age 50 have dramatically increased rates of the condition– and post-menopausal women are especially at risk due to new hormone changes.
Diseases most likely to cause dry eye include:
- Auto-immune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic sclerosis and systemic lupus erythematosus
- Acne rosacea
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Thyroid disorders
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
Other factors associated with dry eye:
- Therapeutic medications for a variety of conditions
- Hormonal changes
- Radiation therapy of the head or neck
- Refractive eye surgery, including PRK and LASIK procedures
- Contact lens use
- Eye trauma
- Low humidity environments
Dry Eye is a common condition with many causes, including certain medications and health conditions:
Systemic medications include:
- Oral contraceptives
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Blood pressure medication
- Ulcer medication
- Beta blockers
Health conditions include:
- Acne rosacea
- Reduced levels of androgens
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Thyroid disease
Dry Eye and the Hormone Connection
Throughout life, women suffer from dry eye in greater proportion than men. Female hormonal changes due to pregnancy, lactation and menstruation can cause temporary dry eye symptoms. During menopause, dry eye can become chronic as estrogen levels drastically fall.
As a woman ages, moisture levels decline throughout her body, including the eye. Dry eye symptoms may emerge for the first time or increase in severity.
The link between menopause and dry eye, however, is not fully understood. For some women, hormone replacement therapy brings relief.
Here are some simple steps you can take to relieve symptoms:
- Drink more water
- Avoid smoking
- Reduce caffeine and alcohol use
- Use GenTeal eye lubricants to replace lost moisture
Is Your Environment Hurting Your Eyes?
The irritants that cause your eyes to itch and burn can be hiding almost anywhere — even your own bedroom.
These environmental conditions can spark symptoms in a hurry:
- Overheated rooms
- Air conditioning
- Dusty or smoky conditions
- Air pollution
- Hot, windy conditions
- Airplanes and other low humidity environments
Try these tips for taking control of environmental irritants:
- Use a room or whole house humidifier in winter
- Direct car heater vents away from your face
- Don’t sit close to fireplaces and space heaters
- Avoid hairdryer use
- Wear wraparound sunglasses while outdoors
When you can’t avoid problem areas, prepare your eyes with a soothing application of GenTeal lubricating eye drops or gel, formulated for mild, moderate or severe symptoms.
Dry Eye Risk with LASIK
Considering LASIK surgery for your nearsightedness? Dry eye is the most common complication of this popular procedure. Tear production appears to decrease while surgically severed corneal nerves heal. As a result, many patients develop dry eye symptoms that last for a few weeks or even months after surgery.
If you already have dry eye, be aware that your symptoms may worsen for a period of time after surgery. Ask your physician for pre-operative testing to determine if you’re likely to experience severe dry eye symptoms after surgery. Special treatment before and after undergoing your LASIK procedure can help reduce discomfort.
Dry Eye: Unwelcome Travel Companion
Eye discomfort can take the fun out of any trip. Spend hours in a dry airplane cabin and your eyes will turn hot and itchy eyes before you even reach your destination.
Some travel conditions can cause temporary dry eye symptoms, and can even aggravate existing symptoms if you already suffer from this condition.
- Dry climates
- Very hot or cold weather
- High altitudes
- Windy conditions
If you’re skiing, cycling or engaged in other active outdoor sports, you can dry your eyes out even faster. Wearing wraparound sunglasses, however, helps reduce tear evaporation.
To further protect your eyes, lubricate them daily with GenTeal eyedrops or gel. Available in convenient multi-dose bottles and tubes, GenTeal is ideal for travel — without the extra cost and bulky packaging of single-dose products.