Eyes get drier with age, and women, regardless of age, suffer with dry eye more so than men. The dry, scratchy, burning feeling in the eyes that leads to eye watering that offers no relief from dry eye symptoms. What, besides aging, are the causes of dry eye and how can the condition be remedied?
Fluctuating Hormones Can Cause Dry Eye
Since women suffer with dry eye more than men, hormones have to play a role in the condition. Fluctuating hormones that women experience during perimenopause and menopause reduce the production of tears or change the composition of tears so they contain less lubricant for the cornea. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) that stabilizes hormones can remedy dry eye caused by fluctuating hormones.
Medications Can Cause Dry Eye
Certain medications, both prescription and over-the-counter varieties, can cause dry eye. Antihistamines, diuretics and acne medications are three of those medication varieties, if the medication is formulated to dry something up, it’s probably going to cause dry eye to some extent as well. Some antidepressants also can be the cause of dry eye.
Medications that cause dry eye may be essential for health, increasing the amount of Omega-3 fatty acid in the diet can counteract that medicine induce dry eye.
Environmental Factors Can be the Cause of Dry Eye
Spending the majority of time indoors with conditioned air (both air and heat) can cause dry eyes. Conditioned air is lacking humidity and will dry the eyes. Indoor drafts or outdoor wind blowing into the eyes will cause dry eye. Smoking or being in a room where there is secondhand cigarette smoke will cause dry eye. Staring at a computer screen for hours during the workday or for play will cause dry eye. Make sure computer screen is not above eye level, which will cause eyes to open wider than normal for viewing.
Contact Lenses and Lasik Surgery Cause Dry Eye
Some types of contact lenses can prevent oxygen from reaching the eye. If you wear contacts, opt for the most oxygen-permeable type contact lenses to help ease dry eye symptoms.
During the Lasik surgery procedure, the nerves in the cornea that drive tear production are cut, causing chronic dry eye for many patients after Lasik surgery.
Remedies for Dry Eye
Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air and don’t sit downwind of an air conditioning or heating vent. Take a fish oil capsule daily and use artificial tears when needed. However, if you use artificial tears more than six times per day, an anti-inflammatory medication (like Restasis) and/or corticosteroid eye drops may be needed. Talk to your ophthalmologist if artificial tears are being used too frequently to ease the symptoms of dry eye.