Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome can be frustrating and painful. Many people who experience dry eye syndrome complain of blurry vision, general pain, inflammation of the eyelids, and a feeling as though something is scratching the eye. It is important to learn the causes of dry eye and visit your physician for treatment options to alleviate the symptoms if you are experiencing this condition.


As we age, the tear glands often quit producing adequate amounts of tears and mucus to moisten the eyeball. If you suffer from dry eye due to the natural aging process, your physician may be able to prescribe you a lubricating eye drop to relieve dry eye symptoms.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes often cause dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is generally more common in women and is associated with fluctuating hormonal levels due to menopause. Additionally, if the thyroid gland ceases to properly function, hormone levels will become imbalanced and may cause dry eye. Your physician may be able to prescribe hormone replacement therapy for severe cases of hormonal imbalance which may resolve your symptoms.


Dry eye is a potential side effect of many medications, especially antihistamines, antidepressants, narcotics and hormonal contraceptives. Consult your physician or pharmacist about any medication that you are taking to determine if your dry eye syndrome may be a medication side effect. If so, your physician may prescribe lubricating eye drops or change the medication to another altogether.

Decreased Blinking

While it may seem redundant, decreased blinking is often the culprit in dry eye symptoms. The average person blinks several times per minute, but certain activities may decrease blinking. People who work frequently on a computer, play video games, or watch television may find themselves “forgetting to blink.” If this is the cause of your dry eye, it is usually temporary and will improve after the activity is stopped.

Contact Lenses

A common complaint from people who wear contact lenses is dry eye symptoms. The contacts themselves can absorb the natural fluids in the eye which make up the tears. Several contacts are now designed to decrease or prevent dry eye, which can be prescribed by your optometrist after he determines that this is the cause of your condition.

Environmental Factors

Dry or hot weather, excessive wind and exposure to pollution in the environment often can cause dry eye to develop in otherwise healthy individuals. These types of weather can cause the fluids in the eye to evaporate and when exposure is limited or stopped altogether, dry eye usually resolves on its own. Additionally, exposure to cigarette or incense smoke can irritate and dry out the eyes. If environmental factors are the cause of your dry eye, lubricating eye drops may be prescribed by your physician.