Our tears are more complex than you might think. They are made up of more than 1,500 proteins that work together to keep the eye lubricated and protected from external conditions. Dry eye occurs when insufficient tears or poor tear quality fail to properly lubricate the surface of the eye.
The cause of dry eye varies from patient to patient. In some, tear quality may be compromised by meibomian dysfunction so tears evaporate too quickly from the eye. As we age, the amount of tears we produce also begins to diminish, which can contribute to dry eyes in senior patients. Other contributing factors can include:
- Wearing contact lenses regularly
- Medical conditions, such as diabetes or hormonal changes
- Certain medications, such as antihistamines or antidepressants
- Environmental factors, such as windy or smoky conditions
In some cases, eliminating causes, such as a medication, can relieve symptoms. In others, we may need to provide treatment to alleviate your discomfort.