The simple explanation for what causes dry eyes is inadequate tears. Tears are actually comprised of several substances --- fatty oils, mucus and water. This mixture is designed to keep the surface of the eyes clear and smooth; it also helps to protect the eyes from any infections. When an imbalance occurs in this composition, dry eyes can occur. Another cause for this condition is that some people cannot produce enough tears so that their eyes are comfortably lubricated. There are a number of other potential causes for dry eyes including certain medications, environmental factors and eyelid problems. Medications that can cause this condition include: high blood pressure medications, decongestants, antihistamines, hormone replacement therapy and some antidepressant medications. Some environmental causes for dry eyes include: dry air, concentration-heavy tasks and wind.
Some of the most common complication of dry eyes includes a decreased quality of life, first and foremost, because of the difficulty in performing everyday activities. Chronic dry eyes can also cause scarring on the surfaces of the eyes when left untreated as well as a greater frequency of eye infections. Having adequate tears is essential, which is why it is so important to see a physician to treat this problem effectively when it arises.
Although symptoms of dry eyes can affect only a single eye, it is more common for it to affect both. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include: a scratchy, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes and an increase in eye irritation from wind or smoke. Other common symptoms include: stringy mucus around or in the eyes, sensitivity to light, eye fatigue or redness, difficulty wearing contacts, excessive tearing, blurry vision and the sensation that something is in the eyes. Prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes are an indicator that a physician should be seen.
The primary focus for a physician will be to determine the cause behind the dry eyes. There are a number of tests and procedures that can be used including comprehensive examination of the eyes, tear volume measurement and determining tear quality. Volume and quality measurements will help the physician determine how the dry eyes issue can be treated most effectively.
The first step in treatment is to deal with the underlying cause for the dry eyes so that the problem will not recur. There are also a number of prescription medications that can help to reduce the symptoms for this eye condition including antibiotics for inflammation reduction in the eyelids, prescription eye drops to control inflammation of the cornea and prescription artificial tear inserts. Unblocking oil glands, covering eyes with special lenses and partially closing tear ducts may also help to prevent dry eyes damage.