Dry eyes occur when there is diminished tear production that creates a lack of lubrication. Tears are needed to moisten the eyes and wash away particles that could damage it. A healthy tear film on the eye is necessary for good vision.

Normally, specific glands secrete tears needed to coat the eye. The composition of a tear includes:

  • Mucus for tear spreading
  • Water and oils for lubrication
  • Antibodies for infection control

When eyes become dry, a person can experience the following symptoms:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Gritty feeling, like of sand in the eye
  • Pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light

Causes of Chronic Dry Eye

Chronic dry eye can be caused naturally or by environmental factors like:

  • Dry air from heating units or air conditioners
  • Aging
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Drug effects (e.g. birth control pills and antihistamines)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Eyelids don’t completely close leaving the eye to dry out
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal ulcers and infections
  • Leukemia
  • Lymphoma
  • Vitamin A deficiency

Doctors Who Treat Chronic Dry Eyes

If you suspect you have chronic dry eyes, you will likely see a specialist who deals with conditions of the eye. These include:

  • Optometrists: Professionals who perform eye examinations, diagnose and treat eye problems and prescribe corrective lenses
  • Ophthalmologists: Doctors who specialize in eye and vision care, encompassing the anatomy, physiology, pathology and function of the eye. They diagnose and treat eye conditions both medically and surgically.