What causes a Dry Eye?

The symptoms of a dry eye lead to huge impact on life in general and discomfort for the suffering people. The causes and mechanisms involved in the development of dry eye disease can be diverse and there are several risk factors involved. dry eye symptoms can occur:

  • due to age-related reduction of tearfilm production, more common in females
  • due to postmenopausal estrogen therapy/androgen insuffiency
  • as a symptom associated with skin diseases (ex. Rosacea, acne)
  • due to injuries of the eye-lids or eye operations
  • due to parasites at the lid margin called "demodex"
  • due to systemic diseases like diabetes mellitus, thyroid diseases, chronic rheumatism or inflammatory vascular diseases
  • due to immunological diseases.
  • in case of ongoing medical treatment with psychotropic drugs, sleeping medications, β-blockers, hormone substitution or medications against allergies
  • due to vitamin A deficiency
  • due to increasing environmental load of ozon and fine dust
  • due to heating, smoke (cigarettes), windy conditions
  • in case of working with computers, tablets, (excessive) handy usage
  • by children often among with immunologic diseases, diabetes, allergic conjunctival diseases or neurodermitis
  • due to autoimmune reactions (Sjögrens syndrome)
  • usage of contact lenses

Investigations have shown, that pathological changes of the tearfilm may be associated with inflammatory processes of the ocular surface, thus leading to reduction of sensitivity of the ocular surface. This leads to reduction of tear-film secretion and dry eye symptoms. This may cause damage to the ocular surface which again leads to new inflammations. Thus the inflammation is the reason and the cause of dry eye symptoms.

Due to damage of surface cells or due to diseases of the lid-margin, like blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction a disturbed tearfilm may occur as well. The result is a changed oil component which leads to an enhanced evaporation of the aqueous layer. Typical symptoms here are a burning and/or a tearing eye.