12 Aug Dry eyes

Dry eye occurs when the normal tear film is disrupted leading to insufficient moisture and lubrication of the eye’s surface [2].

It can be caused by the following:

  • Decreased tear production. [1]
  • Excessive tear evaporation due to reduced blinking when you are concentrating on something (computer work, watching TV); eyelids not closing completely; and air conditioning. [1]
  • Environmental factors such as dry, dusty or windy weather; fumes (e.g. cigarette smoke) cause the tears to evaporate faster. [2]
  • Other causes: contact lens use; chemical (alkali) burns to the eye; certain diseases (e.g. Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases); medications (example: birth control pill, some antidepressants, antihistamines); aging; menopause; lack of sleep; laser vision correction procedures (e.g. LASIK). [1,2,3]

The following symptoms may be present: Burning; tearing; scratchy; red eyes; blurred vision; light sensitivity; and foreign body sensation. [1]

Treatment includes the following:

  • Artificial tears and ointments to lubricate your eyes. Because ointments are thicker, they last longer but can cause blurred vision, so are better to use at night before you go to bed. These are available over the counter at pharmacies and optometrists. It is best to choose an eye drop/ointment without preservatives. [1,3]
  • Blink more frequently and take breaks (close your eyes for 10 seconds) frequently while doing work that requires concentration. [1]
  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air. [1]



1. Dahl, A. A. Dry eye syndrome. eMedicine health. June 12, 2007. http://www.emedicinehealth.com/dry_eye_syndrome/page18_em.htm#Authors and Editors
2. Ellis, E. Dry eyes. EyeCareSource.com. December, 2010. http://www.eyecaresource.com/conditions/dry-eyes/
3. Keenan, J. P. Dry eyes. MedicineNet.com. September, 2009. http://www.medicinenet.com/dry_eyes/article.htm#causes


Photograph by Nadine du Rand

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