What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease can have many causes.  Everything from computer use to autoimmune disease to vitamin deficiencies can cause dry eye disease.  Below are listed many of the possible causes of dry eye disease:

  • Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren's syndrome
  • Hormonal imbalances, such as too much or too little testosterone
  • Vitamin deficiencies, including Vitamin A, Magnesium and Zinc
  • Computer usage, which decreases the blink rate and can lead to evaporative dry eye
  • LASIK surgery, which can cause either temporary or permanent dry eye (source)
  • Accutane acne treatment (source)
  • Medications, which can cause dry eye as either a termporary or permanent side effect (source)
  • Mask enduced dry eye from face masks (source)

Below we will go into further detail about some of these causes of dry eye.  We recommend speaking to your doctor if you wish to further explore any of these causes of dry eye, as your doctor will be able to guide you to further treatment.

Autoimmune Dry Eye

Autoimmune dry eye is caused by an autoimmune disease.  The main autoimmune disease that can cause dry eyes is called Sjogren's syndrome, and the primary features of this disease are dry eyes and dry mouth.  Sjogren's can be diagnosed via a blood test, however the blood test is not always accurate. If you are interested in having the blood test for Sjogren's syndrome performed, you can discuss this with your doctor, or you can purchase the test online here

Traditional blood tests for Sjogren's may not always show a positive result even if you have Sjogren's.  There is also a blood test called the Sjo test that is supposed to be more sensitive than a traditional blood test for Sjogren's and may detect Sjogren's earlier, however at the time of this writing it appears the test may have been discontinued as it appears their official website may be offline.

The gold standard for diagnosing Sjogren's is via a lip biopsy.  A lip biopsy would be able to confirm damage from Sjogren's that blood tests may miss.

Other autoimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus may also cause dry eyes.  Typically autoimmune diseases cause aqueous deficient dry eye, meaning you do not create enough tears.

Vitamin Deficiencies causing Dry Eye

In order to create tears, you need the proper mix of vitamins and minerals.  A deficiency in any of the required vitamins or minerals may cause a lack of tear production.  Vitamin A, Magnesium and Zinc are all essential in creating healthy tears.

Vitamin A deficency can cause night blindness, where it is very difficult or impossible to see in low-light conditions.  Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle twitching, as Magnesium is also needed by your muscles to function properly.

Vitamin deficiencies can be caused by poor diet, or by other gastroentestinal problems such as Celiac Disease or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO).

To check your vitamin levels ask your doctor, or you can purchase blood tests for these vitamin levels below:

Computer Associated Dry Eye

When you use the computer, your blink rate decreases.  Prolonged computer usage can lead to evaporative dry eye because you are not blinking enough to keep a stable tear film.  Unfortunately even children are now getting dry eye due to heavy computer usage.  Once dry eye gains a foothold, it can be hard to reverse the damage and inflammation caused without prompt and proper treatment.

Where do I go from here?

Figuring out the cause of your dry eye can be a major step towards finding a treatment that works for your dry eyes.  By working with a qualified eye doctor and possibly also your primary care doctor you can hopefully find a cause to your dry eyes.  We recommend you read our article on diagnosing dry eye, which will help you determine which type of dry eye you have and hopefully find an appropriate treatment.


Disclaimer: We may earn a commission when you purchase one of the blood tests above using one of our affiliate links on this page. AllDryEye should not take the place of your doctor and you should discuss all of your symptoms with a qualified medical professional.