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What Causes Dry Eye?

Often, a variety of causes can combine to contribute to dry eye. If you have any of the conditions below and also have dry eye symptoms, talk with your doctor.

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Simply put, our eyes change as we change and can become more susceptible to developing dry eye. In order to maintain good eye health, the American Optometric Association recommends people over the age of 60 schedule regular eye exams.

Hormonal changes can lead to dry eye symptoms. As a result, women who are taking birth control pills, or going through menopause are at a greater risk of experiencing dry eye.

Environmental factors of the cities in which we live can directly impact our eyes. For example, residents of Chicago and New York City were three to four times more likely to experience dry eye symptoms than other cities with less air pollution, and cities with higher altitude have a 13 percent higher chance of experiencing symptoms.

Sjögren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease which occurs when the body’s white blood cells mistakenly attack moisture producing glands. This causes inflammation and a significant reduction in the quantity and quality of the moisture they produce.

Various common medications can produce dry eye symptoms. Some of these medications include: antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, birth control and medications for Parkinson's disease.

Medical conditions – persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) or inflammation of the surface of the eye can cause dry eyes to develop.

Other risk factors include:

Experiencing dry eye symptoms after your Lasik eye surgery is extremely common. Around 95% of patients report these symptoms after the procedure. Most of the time the symptoms subside after 6-12 months post surgery.

Blinking less is often a risk factor for developing dry eye, and one of the easiest to avoid. We blink less when we focus strongly on stimuli. This can happen while reading and driving, and most commonly while working at a computer. Give your eyes a break by closing your eyes, walking away from the computer, or blinking repeatedly for a few seconds to spread tears to your eyes.

Contact lens wear is a risk factor for developing dry eye. It is important to clean and take care of your contact lenses. If you experience dry eye symptoms while wearing contact lenses, talk to your Eye Care Professional.

Help Prevent Dry Eye

While there is no cure for dry eye, these tips can help prevent and relieve symptoms of dry eye. 

Quit smoking and/or avoid second-hand smoke.

Reduce the amount of air that blows into your eyes (i.e., heating, ventilation and air conditioning vents, etc.)

Wear glasses on windy days and goggles while swimming.

Monitor indoor humidity and use a humidifier if needed

Take breaks when reading or working at a computer for extended durations.

Eat a healthy diet that includes Omega-3 fatty acids.

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The SYSTANE® Family of Products is the #1 Doctor recommended brand of artificial tears. The SYSTANE® Family of Products includes options that are used for the temporary relief of burning and irritation due to dryness of the eye.


SYSTANE® is the #1 Doctor Recommended Brand for Dry Eye Symptom Relief