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Dry Eyes


Causes of Dry Eyes

Tears are made up of more than just water. They're a complex mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, electrolytes, bacteria-fighting substances and growth factors that regulate various cell processes. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear. Without tears, good vision is impossible.

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is an imbalance in the composition of their tears. Other people don't produce enough tears to keep their eyes comfortably lubricated. Eyelid problems, medications and other causes, such as environmental factors, also can lead to dry eyes.

Poor tear quality
The tear film has three basic layers:
oil, water and mucus. Problems with any of these layers can cause dry eye symptoms.

 Oil. The outer layer, produced by small glands on the edge of your eyelids (meibomian glands), contains fatty oils called lipids. These smooth the tear surface and slow evaporation of the middle watery layer. When the oil layer is abnormal, the watery layer evaporates too quickly. Dry eye problems are common in people whose meibomian glands are clogged. Meibomian dysfunction is more common in people with inflammation along the edge of their eyelids (blepharitis), rosacea and other skin disorders.

 Water. The middle layer, which is by far the thickest layer, is mostly water with a little bit of salt. This layer, produced by the tear glands (lacrimal glands), cleanses your eyes and washes away foreign particles or irritants. A shallow water layer can predispose you to tear film instability. If your eye produces only small, inadequate amounts of water, the oil and mucus layers can touch and cause the stringy discharge familiar to people with dry eyes.

Mucus. The inner layer of mucus allows tears to spread evenly over the surface of your eyes. Dry spots form easily in any part of the front surface of the eye (cornea) that has patchy loss of the mucus layer.

Decreased tear production. Dry eyes are common, especially for people older than 40. Tear production tends to diminish as you get older. When you're unable to produce enough tears, your eyes become dry and easily irritated. The medical term for this condition is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (ker-uh-to-kun-junk-ti-VIE-tis sik-uh).

Although dry eyes can affect both men and women at any age, the condition is more common among women, especially after menopause. This may be due in part to hormonal changes. Damage to the tear glands from inflammation or radiation can hamper tear production. Dry eyes are also associated with some medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome and vitamin A deficiency.

Refractive eye surgeries such as laser-assisted in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK) also may cause decreased tear production and dry eyes. Symptoms of dry eyes related to these procedures are usually temporary.

Poor lid function. Through blinking — normally at a rate of about once every 12 seconds — your eyelids spread a continuous thin film of tears across the surface of your eyes. Problems with your eyelids can impair the complex blinking motion required to spread these tears, resulting in dry eyes. Eyelid problems that may develop as you age include an out-turning of the lids (ectropion) or an in-turning of the lids (entropion).

Blepharitis, an inflammation along the edge of the eyelids, also may cause your eyes to feel dry and scratchy.

Medications. The types of common medications, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC), that can be the causes of dry eyes include:

                  Diuretics, drugs commonly used to treat high blood pressure

                 Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors used to treat high blood  pressure

                  Antihistamines and decongestants

                  Sleeping pills

                  Birth control pills

                  Certain antidepressants

                  Isotretinoin-type drugs for treatment of acne

                 Opiate-based pain relievers, such as morphine

Other causes of dry eyes.

Dry eyes can be worsened by exposure to many environmental conditions that has  a drying effect, such as sun, wind, high altitude, a dry climate, hot blowing air and the dry air that commonly occurs in the cabins of commercial airplanes.

In addition, tasks that require intense visual concentration — such as working at a computer, driving or reading — tend to decrease your blink rate, thereby increasing tear evaporation.

Often times under diagnosed or not addressed by patients’ optometrists or ophthalmologists, Dry Eyes Syndrome plays a significant role when treating other ocular conditions.  Dr. Azizi believes when Dry Eyes is appropriately addressed and treated, outcomes for ocular surgeries such as Cataracts, LASIK, Blepharoplasty to name a few is much improved.  Dry Eyes Syndrome plays a large role at West Florida Eye.  Dr. Azizi’s expertise in this field has allowed him to help thousands of individuals suffering from this disease, at times debilitating for many individuals.  Dr. Azizi has made Dry Eyes Syndrome a focal point of his practice and career; and he will continue to be in the forefront of research and treatment.

Symptoms of dry eyes

Signs and symptoms of dry eyes, which usually affect both eyes, may include:

                  A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes

                  Stringy mucus in or around your eyes

                  Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind

                  Eye fatigue after short periods of reading

                  Sensitivity to light

                  Difficulty wearing contact lenses


                  Blurred vision, often worsening at the end of the day or after visually  focusing for a  prolonged period on a nearby task.

          West Florida Eye, 2814  Lee Blvd, Unit 3 Lehigh Acres, Florida 33971  (239) 303-2687 Fax (239) 368-2688