Swimmers can be caused by rubbing their eyes
There are many reasons for sicca syndrome: it can be due to a disease, dry eyes can be a reaction to hormonal changes or an allergy, or the cause of irritated eyes is not in the body itself, but in the environment.
Environmental influences as the cause
Environmental influences that cause dry eyes are above all tobacco smoke and air conditioning or heating air. Particularly in winter, in strongly heated rooms, the complaints increase, because in dry air the tear film evaporates faster than normal and can no longer keep the eye moist.
Drafts can also dry out the eyes. Many people notice the symptoms after driving a convertible or when the car's fan is turned up. If the eyes are already irritated, a light wind or a draft is enough to dry out the eyes.
Long hours at the computer are also often the cause of the complaints: those who constantly look at the screen blink less often. As a result, the tear fluid is distributed worse. This phenomenon is called "office eye syndrome". This usually results from a combination of computer work and excessively dry air in the office. There is also the term "gamer eye" for people who complain of dry eyes after playing on the computer - children and young people are not uncommon.
Allergies as a cause
In summer, many hay fever patients complain of watery eyes. A natural reaction of the body, which wants to protect itself against intruders when there is a pollen count and tries to rinse them with tears from the eyes. Even with other allergies, such as house dust or cat hair allergies, the eyes often begin to water. There is an overproduction of tear fluid. Since the body produces the watery layers of the tear film faster than the fat film, the composition of the fluid changes accordingly. As a result, it evaporates faster and ultimately leads to dry eyes.
Anyone who takes an allergy drug, a so-called antihistamine, to stop the watery eyes can also get dry eyes, as the drug inhibits the production of the tear film.
Hormones as the cause
Hormones can affect the eye. Women in particular notice this, because the female sex hormones, estrogens, increase the risk of dry eyes. At the beginning of a cycle, estrogen levels are low, but they rise over time - and so does the likelihood of irritated eyes.
For the same reason, hormonal contraceptives such as the pill or the birth control ring can be the cause. Since they often increase the estrogen level, they also increase the risk of dry eyes.
Many women notice irritated eyes during their menopause, which doctors call "climacteric". During this time there are major hormonal changes that can cause discomfort - including in the eyes. Sicca syndrome is not uncommon, especially when women relieve their menopausal symptoms with estrogen therapy. When hormone treatment, women take replacement hormones, which are designed to compensate for the natural decline in female sex hormones during menopause. Similar to hormonal contraception, this artificially increases hormone levels and thus the risk of dry eyes.
Contact lenses as the cause
Contact lens wearers often suffer from dry eyes. Around half have to struggle with it - more often with soft contact lenses than with hard ones.
Ideally, contact lenses, regardless of whether they are daily, weekly, monthly or yearly lenses, float on the tear film. In this way, the oxygen supply and the supply of nutrients can continue unhindered, despite the shielding lens in the eye.
Contact lenses can sometimes act like a sponge, withdraw fluid from the eye and thus be the cause of sicca syndrome. It is advisable to talk to your ophthalmologist about this, as they can recommend other contact lenses. Or those affected reach for glasses - the easiest way to alleviate symptoms.
Illnesses as the cause
The cause of the sicca syndome can also be a disease that causes wetting disorders of the eye - for example thyroid disease, which can upset the hormonal balance.
People with Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease named after a Swedish doctor, suffer particularly from dry eyes. In this disease, the salivary and lacrimal glands become inflamed. With the result that not only the mucous membranes on the eyes, but also in the mouth dry out.
If there is inflammation of the eye, such as conjunctivitis, the eye becomes red, swollen and begins to water. Due to the increased production of tears, it is possible that the composition of the tear film changes and that the eye dries out as a result. This triggers a vicious circle, because the dryness in turn promotes inflammation.
People who suffer from psoriasis are particularly at risk for inflammation of the eye. Especially when the eyelids are affected and the delicate skin around the eye becomes dry, red and flaky.
In addition to diseases, there are also congenital malformations that lead to impaired eyelid closure and thus promote dry eyes. Paralysis of the facial nerves, for example as a result of a stroke, can also cause the blinking to change. Sometimes the patient can no longer fully close one or both eyelids or blinking is completely impossible.
Parkinson's patients also often complain of dry eyes. Parkinson's is a disease that primarily affects the motor skills and leads to a reduced blink frequency in many patients. The rare blinking of the eye causes dry eyes.
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