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Dry Eye: What Causes It and How to Treat It

Written by Shannon Wong on June 30, 2019

Dry eye causes and treatmentsDry eye is one of the most common conditions that we see at Austin Eye Clinic. We understand how the bothersome symptoms of dry eye can interfere with daily activities and affect quality of life. Our doctors are committed to diagnosing dry eye and using innovative treatments to give our patients lasting relief.

Causes of Dry Eye

There are three reasons why you may develop dry eyes.

  1. Your eyes do not produce enough tears. This can occur due to the effects of the aging process, certain medical procedures (including laser eye surgery) and certain medical procedures.
  2. Your tear film’s composition is unbalanced. Your tear film has a watery layer, an oily layer and a mucous layer. If the balance between these layers is disrupted, it can lead to dry eyes. This can happen due to meibomian gland dysfunction, which is a problem affecting the glands that produce the oily layer of the tear film.
  3. Your tears evaporate too quickly off your ocular surface. Eyelid abnormalities, windy or smoky environments and blinking less often can cause an increase in tear evaporation (meaning the tears do not “stick” to the surface of your eyes as long as they should).

How to Treat Dry Eye

Sometimes simply paying attention to the situations that cause dry eye symptoms can provide relief. For example, if your eyes tend to become dry when you spend a lot of time working on the computer, or doing other tasks that require concentration, it can help to blink more regularly and periodically rest your eyes. Or, if your eyes become very dry in windy, smoky or dry environments, closing your eyes for a few minutes at a time can prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.

Artificial tear drops and ointments are another common treatment for occasional or mild dry eye. These over-the-counter products can help keep your eyes feel moisturized and comfortable. But they are not considered a long-term solution to the problem.

A medical device called LipiFlow can provide lasting relief from dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. The treatment involves using heat and gentle pressure to unclog blocked glands so they can resume secreting oil into the tear film. This prevents tears from evaporating prematurely off the ocular surface.

Schedule an Appointment at Austin Eye

For more information about dry eye causes and treatments, please call or email the team at Austin Eye today.