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If you’ve ever dealt with dry eye disease, you know it’s not pleasant. Dry eye disease can cause discomfort, and getting treatment as soon as possible is essential. Knowing why you may have dry eye disease can help you better understand the condition.

Let’s take a closer look at dry eye disease, including 7 reasons why you have dry eye.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when your tears cannot provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. There can be several causes of dry eye disease, but almost all fall under 2 separate categories: evaporative dry eye and aqueous deficient dry eye.

Evaporative dry eye occurs when the meibomian glands do not produce enough oil to sit on top of the tear layer, preventing it from evaporating.

Aqueous deficient dry eye occurs when the lacrimal gland doesn’t produce enough of the water portion of the tear layer.

The easy part is that dry eye can have many symptoms that alert you to its presence—some of these symptoms include:

  • A burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Mucus in or around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue

These symptoms are a good indication of dry eye disease, and treating them as soon as possible. These symptoms can sometimes go away on their own—but dry eye disease can lead to more severe vision conditions if left untreated. 

With the basics of dry eye disease down, let’s look at 7 reasons why you have dry eye.

A close-up image of a woman's red, dry eye

7 Reasons for Dry Eye Disease

There can be several reasons that cause dry eyes—and the discomfort you feel can appear rapidly or over time. 

Let’s explore 7 of those reasons.

Environmental Causes

You may notice dry eyes when you’re just sitting at home and relaxing—this can indicate a lack of moisture in the air, leading to an increase in tear evaporation. Using a humidifier is a great solution to prevent dryness.

The cold air of winter can also play a part so if you live in a cold-weather city, you should take the proper precautions. Any exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can contribute, and eye drops are an excellent treatment method for daily use.

Computer Vision Syndrome

Focusing on a computer or cell phone screen for long hours is nothing new in today’s world. People generally forget to blink as much when staring at these screens, whether it’s for work or entertainment. 

The constant staring and minimal blinking can cause your eyes to dry out

A helpful tip for monitoring and controlling your computer usage is to practice the 20-20-20 rule. This rule states that for every 20 minutes spent using your screen, you should try to look away at something that is 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds.

The 20-20-20 method can give your eyes a much-needed break and work against dry eyes.

Long-Term Contact Lens Usage

Certain contact lenses can restrict oxygen access to the cornea. Delivering oxygen to your eyes for nourishment is essential in preventing dry eyes. Making a move to scleral contact lenses, which are custom-made for your eyes, can help combat dry eye disease for contact lens wearers.

Monitoring the effects of contact lenses on your eyes is essential. 


Aging can be a natural cause of dry eyes. As you age, there is a decrease in the quality and quantity of tears you produce leading to dry eye disease. From around age 50 and up, your body has to work harder to produce tears for lubrication. 

Using prescription eye drops and artificial tears to provide extra lubrication is a great way to alleviate some of your dry eye discomfort.

Certain Medications

Certain medications can be associated with dry eye disease.

Some of these medications include:

  • Antihistamines for allergies
  • Decongestants for cold symptom relief
  • Antidepressants
  • Diuretics

It’s important to monitor any medications and make sure to get the proper treatment if these medications are triggering dry eyes.


Having allergies can cause significant discomfort and potentially be dangerous if not addressed. When it comes to your eyes, allergies can make your eyes appear itchy, red, and watery. 

If dry eye disease symptoms appear along with your allergies, prescription eye drops can help you find some relief.

Health Problems

Autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma may cause dry eye.

These conditions are all-encompassing, and dry eye disease may just be one of the symptoms you’ll deal with. Your doctor will have more information and advice on dealing with dry eye disease when these conditions are present.

These are some of the reasons you may have dry eye disease—getting a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist is always a good first step for diagnosis.

Moving Forward with Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease brings discomfort and can be irritating to deal with. Understanding some of the reasons for dry eye disease can help you better understand the condition. There are various treatment methods available to combat dry eye so you can alleviate your discomfort sooner rather than later.

Contact a dry eye professional to learn more about dry eye disease and find your ideal treatment method today.


May 31, 2022

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