The Link Between Dry Eye and Other Health Conditions: Understanding the Connection

May 9, 2023

Do your eyes often feel dry, itchy, or irritated? If so, you are not alone. Dry eye affects millions worldwide. But did you know there is a connection between various medical disorders and dry eye? Several medical disorders can exacerbate or induce dry eye symptoms. 


What Is Dry Eye?


Dry eye disease occurs when the tears evaporate too quickly, or the eyes do not produce enough tears. This may cause irritation, pain, redness, and vision issues. Eye care professionals link dry eye to several health conditions, including the following:


Autoimmune Diseases


Dry eye is a symptom of autoimmune disorders that impair the body's ability to produce tears. Dry eyes and a dry mouth are symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome. This disorder causes the immune system to attack the glands that produce tears and saliva. Lupus can cause inflammation in the eyes and tear glands, leading to decreased tear production. Eye inflammation is a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis and can result in dry eye.




Diabetes can lead to nerve damage and affect tear production, leading to dry eye. High blood glucose levels can harm the nerves that control tear production. This can lead to decreased tear production and dry eye symptoms. Diabetes patients are also more vulnerable to infections. Dry eyes and irritation may also result from this.


Thyroid Disorders


Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can cause dry eye by affecting tear production. Dry skin, hair, and eyes can result from hypothyroidism, characterized by insufficient hormone production from the thyroid gland. The overproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland in hyperthyroidism can result in dryness and drooping eyes.




Allergies can cause dry eye by triggering an inflammatory response in the eyes. Redness, stinging, and swelling can occur due to allergic conjunctivitis, an allergic reaction that affects the eyes. This may result in symptoms of dry eyes and decreased tear production.




Dry eyes can be a side effect of some drugs, including antihistamines, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications. Antihistamines can help treat allergies but can make you feel dry in the mouth and eyes. 

Antidepressants can affect the nerve signals that control tear production, leading to decreased tear production and dry eye symptoms. Blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers can also affect tear production, leading to dry eye symptoms.


LASIK Surgery


LASIK surgery can cause dry eye as a side effect, although it is usually temporary. During surgery, the eye surgeon reshapes the cornea to correct vision problems. This can cause temporary damage to the nerves that control tear production, leading to decreased tear production and dry eye symptoms. 


How to Manage Dry Eye


There are numerous actions you can take to treat dry eye if you experience it:

  • Use artificial tears: They can lubricate the eyes and ease discomfort

  • Blink frequently: Blinking frequently can help spread tears across the eye's surface

  • Take breaks from computer use: Taking breaks from computer use can help reduce eyestrain and dryness

  • Avoid irritants: Avoiding irritants like smoke and wind can help reduce dry eye symptoms

  • Use a humidifier: By introducing moisture to the air, a humidifier can help lessen dryness

  • Consult an eye doctor: Consult an eye doctor who can suggest treatment choices if your dry eye problems persist or worsen




According to studies, there is a strong link between dry eye and other medical disorders. Healthcare providers can identify patients who are more at risk and treat them appropriately by being aware of this connection. Contacting a doctor as soon as possible is essential to ensure early detection and prevent further difficulties.

For more on dry eye, visit Eye Associates of New York at our office in New York, New York. Call (212) 650-4888 to book an appointment today.

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