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What Causes Dry Eyes?

There can be several causes of dry eyes, including environmental (dry climate; ceiling fans), dietary (a pro-inflammatory diet with insufficient omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients), specific activities (long hours in front of a computer screen) and medicinal side effects. [Read Can Medications Cause Dry Eyes?]


It appears that chronic inflammation plays a key role in the development of dry eyes and dry eye symptoms. For this reason, effective management of dry eye conditions (also called ocular surface disease) may involve long-term use of medicated eye drops that reduce inflammatory damage to the cornea, tear glands, Meibomian glands, and other tissues involved in creating and maintaining a healthy layer of tears on the eye.

To determine the potential causes of your dry eyes, see an eye doctor who specializes in dry eye disease to determine the most effective dry eye treatment — including avoidance of certain common causes and "triggers" for dry eye problems.

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Dr. Gary HeitingAbout the Author: Gary Heiting, OD, is senior editor of AllAboutVision.com. Dr. Heiting has more than 30 years of experience as an eye care provider, health educator and consultant to the eyewear industry. His special interests include myopia, myopia control, and the effects of blue light on the eye.

Page updated February 2018