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11 Possible Causes of Dry Eyes

Are you waking up with dry eyes in the morning? Dry and itchy eyes are a common condition in our country. Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that could cause your dry eyes.

Most patients who have dry eyes are middle-aged or older. In fact, as many as 4.88 million Americans ages 50 and older suffer from dry eyes.

Don’t let dry eyes ruin your day. Instead, keep reading to discover the 11 possible causes for your dry eyes. By determining the source of the problem, you can get the help you need as soon as possible. 

Keep reading to determine why you’re waking up with dry and itchy eyes.

1. Aging 

Anyone can develop itchy, dry eyes. The condition becomes more common as you age, though. Older patients are more prone to dry eyes in the morning because their tear production has declined.

Though it’s not possible to repair your tear production, there is a solution. Speak to your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist about using artificial tears. Using artificial tears on a daily basis can provide your eyes with extra lubrication.

Coating your eyes with artificial tears will help you relieve the dryness you experience each day.

If you have chronic dry eyes, you might first notice your eyes feel heavy and dry. You might also have a difficult time focusing on certain tasks. Make a note if you experience:

  • Clouded vision
  • Night driving problems
  • Discomfort wearing contacts
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Burning, itching, or stinging
  • Red and sore eyelids
  • Mucus secreting from the eye

Let your eye doctor know if you experience these symptoms. In addition to asking about your medical history, they’ll also perform an eye exam to inspect your eye and tear ducts. Your doctor will also measure the quality of your tear film and examine your cornea.

Abnormal tear quality is common in patients with dry and itchy eyes. By examining your symptoms, your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist can determine the course of treatment that’s best for you.

2. Medication

Your tears are formed from oil, water, and mucus. Taking certain medications can reduce your mucus production, which leads to dry eyes. These medications include:

  • Beta-blockers
  • Diuretics
  • Antidepressants
  • Antihistamines

If you take medication that’s causing itchy, dry eyes, speak with your doctor. Ask if there’s an alternative medication you can use. You might also need to use artificial tears along with your medication to keep them hydrated.

When determining a course of treatment, your doctor will consider four possibilities:

  • Increasing tears
  • Maintaining tears
  • Triggering tear production
  • Healing inflammation

The course of treatment often depends on the severity of your case. For example, if your symptoms are mild, you’ll only need artificial tears.

If that course of treatment doesn’t work, you may need to get your tear ducts blocked. This will keep your tears from draining.

Inserts and prescription eye drops can stimulate tear production. Omega-3 fatty acids can help as well.

3. Menopause

Overall, more than 16 million Americans have dry eye disease. Twice as many women than men have dry eyes.

Hormones can cause your eyes to dry out. Some women wake up with dry eyes when they’re pregnant or while using birth control pills. Others experience dry eyes in the morning due to the hormone changes caused by menopause. 

Hormones stimulate the production of tears. When your hormones are imbalanced, it can cause a reduction in tear production. 

It’s important to note that hormone replacement therapy doesn’t seem to improve dry eyes. Speak with your doctor about using lubricating eye drops to reduce the irritation and dryness. 

4. Computer Use

Spending too much time in front of a computer can also cause dry and itchy eyes. Unfortunately, many of us work in front of a computer all day. In addition to drying your eyes, computer use can also cause eyestrain and tension headaches. 

People who work in front of a computer all day tend to blink less often. This causes tears to evaporate more quickly.

If you spend all day in front of a computer, try to blink more often. Frequent blinking will keep your eyes lubricated to prevent dryness.

It also helps to look away from your computer every few minutes. Look away from the computer every 20 minutes and blink to wet your eyes.

If your eyes still feel dry, try using artificial tears as well.

5. Laser Surgery

Laser correction surgery involves cutting some of the nerves in the cornea. The incision causes the eyes to produce fewer tears. As a result, some patients who elect for laser surgery sometimes experience dry eyes.

Dry eyes after laser surgery is usually a short-term condition. The problem will likely resolve itself in a few days or weeks. You can use lubricating eye drops to keep your eyes moist in the meantime. 

Using contact lenses over the span of years can also cause dry eyes. Sometimes, the lenses obstruct oxygen to the cornea, making tear production difficult.

If your eyes aren’t lubricated enough, speak with your doctor. They might suggest you wear glasses or try a different type of contacts. There are now contact lenses available that can help your eyes retain moisture.

6. Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A helps your eyes remain happy and healthy. If your diet lacks vitamin A, it could cause dry eye and vision impairments.

Try eating foods that are rich in vitamin A, including:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers

You can take a blood test to determine if your vitamin A deficient.

7. Wind Exposure

Colder climates and high winds can cause the tears in your eyes to evaporate. If you plan on going skiing, make sure to wear goggles. In the meantime, protect your eyes by using lubricating eye drops.

Mild dehydration and low humidity levels contribute to dry and itchy eyes, too. 

Dry air can dry out your eyes. Make sure to check the humidity levels in your home. You might also want to move your bed or desk so air doesn’t blow directly into your eyes.

A humidifier can also moisten the air to keep your tears from evaporating. 

Going to bed dehydrated can also cause dry eyes in the morning. Dehydration can also lead to:

  • Dark urine
  • A lack of energy
  • Dizziness
  • A rapid heartbeat

Make sure to drink plenty of water—about eight to 10 glasses a day. You should also rest your eyes. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep—about seven to eight hours a night.

8. Sjögren’s Syndrome

An autoimmune disorder, Sjögren’s syndrome causes white blood cells to attack your salivary and tear glands. The condition can cause your body to produce fewer tears.

Treatment for Sjögren’s syndrome usually involves over-the-counter and prescription lubricating eye drops. However, your doctor might also prescribe a steroid eye drop.

If your dry, itchy eyes don’t improve after using the drops, your doctor might recommend surgery.

This type of surgery involves inserting silicone plugs into your tear ducts. These plugs will help preserve your tears to keep your eyes hydrated.

9. Autoimmune Diseases

Other autoimmune diseases can cause you to wake up with dry eyes in the morning, too. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Diabetes

These conditions can cause poor tear production. You might also experience:

  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

If you experience these symptoms, make sure to speak with a doctor for proper diagnosis. You might also experience extreme thirst and frequent urination, which usually indicate diabetes.

Diagnosing and treating the underlying autoimmune disease will improve your dry eye symptoms. 

The treatment for most autoimmune diseases involves an immunosuppressant drug. You might also require a corticosteroid. Treatment for diabetes will involve managing your blood sugar levels by eating a healthier diet.

10. Blepharitis

When small oil glands in your inner eyelids are inflamed and clogged, you develop a condition called blepharitis. There is no cure for blepharitis.

In addition to dry and itchy eyes, you might also notice oily flakes around your eyelashes.

While a cure isn’t available, it can help to reduce your inflammation. Try applying a warm compress over your closed eyes. Leave the compress for a few minutes.

Then, clean your eyelids with baby shampoo.

Until your inflammation reduces, use artificial tears to reduce redness, dryness, and irritation.

If your symptoms don’t improve, visit your doctor. They might suggest treatment that includes using antibiotic eye drops. You can also try some of these natural remedies for dry eyes.

11. Allergies

Allergies can also cause you to wake up with dry eyes. You might notice that your eyes appear watery, red, and itchy.

An oral antihistamine can help reduce your allergies. However, some medications can make your dry eye symptoms worse. If over-the-counter allergy medications don’t work, make an appointment with your doctor.

They might prescribe antihistamine eye drops to relieve your dry eyes.

Itchy Dry Eyes: 11 Possible Reasons for Dry Eyes in the Morning

Don’t suffer through the day with itchy, dry eyes. Instead, determine why you have dry eyes in the morning. Pinpointing the underlying cause can help you find the best course of treatment for your dry eyes. 

Want to learn more about your eye condition? Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.