Chronic Dry Eye

When your body doesn’t make enough tears to keep your eyes moist, you have dry eye.

Tears are needed to moisten the eyes and wash away particles that could damage them. 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
  • A 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. But it can also come from other things, including:

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

Doctors Who Treat Chronic Dry Eyes

If you suspect you have chronic dry eye, you will likely see a specialist who deals with eye conditions. You could see an:

  • Optometrist: A professional who gives eye examinations, diagnoses and treats eye problems, and prescribes corrective lenses.
  • Ophthalmologist: A medical doctor who specializes in eye and vision care. They diagnose and treat eye conditions with medicine and, if necessary, surgery.