People tend to make fewer tears as they get older due to hormonal changes. Both men and women can get dry eye. However, it is more common in women – especially those who have gone through menopause.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
When the meibomian glands, the tiny glands located in the eyelids, do not sufficiently produce and release the oils needed for protecting and ensuring a healthy tear film, this is known as MGD. Often over time, due to a lack of blinking or general debris in the eye, these glands become blocked and stop producing the needed oil to protect the watery layer of the tear film. Early diagnosis is essential because if left untreated, the glands will deteriorate over time and there is no way to recover from gland loss.
MGD can occur at any age but is more prevalent in adults over 40. The increase of MGD is largely due to the common use of digital display devices today as we are teaching ourselves to blink less creating “evaporative stress”. Over time, the oil in the glands thickens, creating blockages of the gland opening and often oil production ceases.
(86% of Dry Eye Patients have Meibomian Gland Dysfunction)
Other causes of dry eye:
- Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, thyroid disease, and lupus
- Blepharitis – chronic, inflammatory condition of the eyelids.
- Entropian (when eyelids turn in); Ectropian (when eyelids turn outward)
- Being in smoke, wind, or a very dry climate
- Looking at a digital devices including phones, tablets, and computer screens for a long time, reading in general and other activities that reduce blinking
- Using contact lenses for a long time
- Certain medications such as:
- Diuretics (water pills) for high blood pressure
- Beta-blockers for heart problems or high blood pressure
- Allergy and cold medications (antihistamines)
- Sleeping pills
- Anxiety and antidepressant medicines
- Heartburn medicines