Hormonal changes are a main cause of dry eye syndrome, causing changes in tear production. The hormonal changes associated with menopause are one of the main reasons why women are most often affected by dry eye.
Conditions that affect the lacrimal gland or its ducts — including autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis — lead to decreased tear secretion and dry eye.
Tear secretion also may be reduced by certain conditions that decrease corneal sensation. Diseases such as diabetes and herpes zoster are associated with decreased corneal sensation. So is long-term contact lens wear and surgery that involves making incisions in or removing tissue from the cornea (such as LASIK).
A wide variety of common medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can cause dry eye by reducing tear secretion. Be sure to tell your ophthalmologist (Eye M.D.) the names of all the medications you are taking, especially if you are using:
- Diuretics for high blood pressure;
- Beta-blockers for heart or high blood pressure;
- Antihistamines for allergies;
- Sleeping pills;
- Anti-anxiety medications;
- Pain relievers.
Since these medications are often necessary, the dry eye condition may have to be tolerated or treated with eyedrops called artificial tears.
People with dry eye are often more likely to experience the side effects of eye medications, including artificial tears. For example, the preservatives in certain eye drops and artificial tear preparations can irritate the eye. These people may need special, preservative-free artificial tears.
Another cause for dry eye is exposure to a dry, windy climate, as well as smoke and air conditioning, which can speed tear evaporation. Avoiding these irritants can offer dry eye relief.
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