Although anyone can be affected, it’s estimated that up to one in every three people over the age of 65 experiences dry eye syndrome. It’s also more common in women than men.
What causes dry eyes?
Dry eye syndrome can occur when your eyes stop making tears as they usually would. Tears are an important part of your eye health. They help to keep your eyes lubricated, protect against infections, and clear away debris from the surface of your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome develops when there is a disruption in the production of tears – either that they evaporate too quickly, an issue with drainage, or that not enough tears are produced.
This can happen for many reasons, either one or a combination of:
- Being in a hot or windy environment
- Wearing contact lenses
- Certain underlying medical conditions
- Side effects of certain medications
- Hormonal changes, such as during the menopause
Can alcohol cause dry eyes?
Consuming alcohol can dehydrate your body and may therefore reduce the volume of tears your eyes produce. When there is not enough fluid to lubricate the eye, you might experience symptoms of dry eye as a result. Alongside lubricating your eyes, tears help protect eyes against infection and foreign objects, such as dust particles.
What help is available?
Your optician may give you eye drops to lubricate your eyes or you could need medication to reduce inflammation. If necessary, surgery can prevent tears from draining away too easily.
If dry eye is caused by an underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. If necessary, the optician may refer you for further tests.