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What Causes Dry Eyes?

What Causes Dry Eyes?



A variety of factors can combine to contribute to Dry Eye. Most symptoms are related to lifestyle, environment, surgery or certain medications, but also age related factors, like menopause. If you have any of the conditions below and also have Dry Eye symptoms, talk with your doctor.


Asian mother, daughter, and grandmother smiling
Asian mother, daughter, and grandmother smiling


Gender & Ethnicity


In general, women are more at risk for dry eye due to hormonal changes that occur from pregnancy and menopause. Ethnicity also plays a role in whether or not you have dry eye. Evidence shows that Asian, Hispanic and Pacific Island populations are more prone to developing dry eye.


Elderly couple smiling looking at phone
Elderly couple smiling looking at phone




As we age our tear production naturally reduces. In order to maintain good eye health, the American Optometric Association recommends people over the age of 60 schedule regular eye exams.

Woman with long hair smiling looking into camera
Woman with long hair smiling looking into camera


Hormonal Changes


Women who use birth control or are going through menopause are at a greater risk of experiencing Dry Eye as both can cause a hormonal imbalance that reduces production.


City skyline showing pollution
City skyline showing pollution




Low humidity, drier winter months, and windy conditions can all cause Dry Eye. High pollution levels can also increase the risk of symptoms as pollutants, such as ozone, affect the tear glands which naturally moisten the eyes.


Two young women posing while taking Systane selfie
Two young women posing while taking Systane selfie


Extended Screen Time


As well as the weather, spending more time on computers, mobile phones and tablets is an environmental factor that can cause Dry Eye.


Contact lens on finger tip
Contact lens on finger tip


Contact Lens Wear


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 doctor and ask about SYSTANE®.

Colorful medication capsules set on a light background
Colorful medication capsules set on a light background


Certain Types of Medications


Antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants and certain medications for high blood pressure and acne are risk factors for dry eye symptoms.


Woman in colorful dress with long hair looking down working
Woman in colorful dress with long hair looking down working


Laser Eye Surgery


Post surgery, as nerves in your eye heal and lubrication levels adjust you may experience dryness. Your eye care professional will normally prescribe eye drops to aid your recovery.


Other Causes


Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Meibomian gland dysfunction is a common eye condition you have probably never heard of. Simply put, it is a blockage of the glands lining your eyelids that help make the oil layer of your tears. Wearing contact lenses can increase your chances of developing MGD4.

This article part funded by Alcon suggests there is no proven evidence that Contact lenses cause MGD.

Close up of a brown colored eye looking up

Computer Vision Syndrome


Too much screen time can lead to eye and vision related problems like blurry vision, headaches and even neck pain. This condition is known as computer vision syndrome (or digital eye strain). When you stare at a screen you blink less, so you're not getting enough lubrication across your eyes. Contact lens wearers can experience computer vision syndrome too.

Man sitting at desk in office working typing on keyboard

Sjögren's Syndrome


Sjögren's (“SHOW-grins”) Syndrome is a common autoimmune disease which occurs when the body’s white blood cells mistakenly attack moisture producing glands. This can cause inflammation and a significant reduction in the quantity and quality of the moisture these glands produce. Talk to your doctor if you think you have Sjögren's Syndrome and are experiencing dry eye, dry mouth, joint pain or fatigue.

Enderly woman with short hair smiling while looking up into the distance

1. Davitt WF, Bloomenstein M, Christensen M, Martin AE. Efficacy in patients with dry eye after treatment with a new lubricant eye drop formulation. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2010;26(4):347-353. 
2. Christensen MT, Martin AE, Bloomenstein M. A comparison of efficacy between Systane Ultra and Optive lubricant eye drops when tested with dry eye patients. Optometry. 2009;80(6):315
3. Rangarajan R, Kraybill B, Ogundele A, Ketelson H. Effects of a hyaluronic acid/hydroxypropyl guar artificial tear solution on protection, recovery, and lubricity in models of corneal epithelium. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2015;31(8):491-497. 
4. Rolando M, Autori S, Badino F, Barabino S. Protecting the ocular surface and improving the quality of life of dry eye patients: a study of the efficacy of an HP-guar containing ocular lubricant in a population of dry eye patients. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2009;25(3):271-278.
5. Silverstein S, Yeu E, Tauber J, et al. Symptom Relief Following a Single Dose of Propylene Glycol-Hydroxypropyl Guar Nanoemulsion in Patients with Dry Eye Disease: A Phase IV, Multicenter Trial. Clin Ophthalmol. 2020;14:3167-3177.
6. Internal calculations by Alcon based on IQVIA Consumer™ Health Insights/MIDAS Audit, Dollars, MAT 06 2021


Consult your healthcare or eye care professional for use, precautions, warnings and contraindications.