woman with sunglasses smiling

What Causes
Your Dry Eyes?

Dry eye is caused by an imbalance in the tear film that leads to an unstable tear structure.


What Causes Dry Eye Symptoms?

It is important to understand the underlying cause of dry eye in order to provide an effective treatment. Dry eye is caused by an imbalance in the tear film that leads to an unstable tear structure. A stable tear film provides the outermost protective layer to our eyes which helps to ensure clear vision. There are two reasons why the tear film can break down. The leading cause of dry eye is due to meibomian gland blockage in the eyelids. These glands secrete lipid oils that create the outer protective layer to our tears and are essential to keep the whole tear structure intact. A lesser common cause of dry eye is a reduction in tear production. 

When the meibomian glands in the eyelid become blocked and are not able to provide a sufficient amount of lipids in the tear film, the surface of the eye can become exposed leading to dry eye symptoms.  This condition is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).  It is essential to treat MGD for the long-term management of your dry eyes.  Fortunately, Dr. Jenifer Ramsower at Dry Eye Center of Florida can provide you with an effective treatment for your dry eye, whether your symptoms are mildly uncomfortable or severely debilitating to your daily activities.  She is here to help.

The Tear Film

The tear film is a complex structure made up of lipid oils, aqueous tears and mucins that protect the eye. When this structure becomes unstable, it leads to a variety of dry eye symptoms.  At Dry Eye Center of Florida, Dr. Ramsower has the latest technology to analyze your tear film structure and determine if your dry eye is a result of aqueous tear deficiency or MGD.  Dr. Ramsower can then individualize your treatment based on your specific dry eye cause.

Causes of dry eye

The mucin (mucous) layer at the bottom of the tear film provides the sticky foundation that coats the surface of the eye.

The aqueous “watery” layer middle layer of the tear film is comprised of tears made by the lacrimal gland.

The top lipid “oily” layer of the tear film is made up of oils secreted by the meibomian glands in the eyelid.  When MGD is present, there is not enough lipid oils on the surface of the tear film and the aqueous layer will evaporate.  This leads to an unstable tear film and results in dry eye symptoms.

Dry Eye Symptoms

Dry Eye Disease is a chronic condition where the eyes feel dry, irritated and uncomfortable. Other symptoms include:

  • burning
  • irritation
  • grittiness
  • foreign body sensation
  • blurry vision
  • tearing
  • eye fatigue
  • pain
  • Redness
  • Light Sensitivity
  • Fluctuating Vision

Medical Dry Eye Causes

There are various systemic diseases, medications and surgeries that can lead to dry eye symptoms: 

  • Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid disease
  • Medications such as antihistamines, beta blockers, diuretics and anxiety medications
  • Blepharitis resulting in chronic inflammation and swelling along lid margins
  • Out turned eyelid (ectropion) and inward turned eyelid (entropion)
  • Refractive surgeries (LASIK, PRK)
  • Cataract surgery
  • Glaucoma medications
  • Contact lens over wear

Dr. Ramsower at Dry Eye Center of Florida will take a thorough history and apply it to your customized treatment plan to maximize the relief of your dry eye symptoms.

Keratograph Assessment

Blocked Glands in the Eyelids: A Major Cause of Dry Eye Symptoms

Many dry eye patients have healthy aqueous tear production, resulting in excessive tearing when the surface of the eye becomes dry.  Dr. Ramsower at Dry Eye Center of Florida has the latest technology to check the meibomian gland structure in your eyelids and determine if a proper amount of lipid oil is being produced and coating the surface of your eye.

While MGD is commonly seen in adults over 40, this condition has been found in children and young adults as well.  It is important to check for MGD regularly in order to avoid chronic dry eye symptoms and prevent the potential for permanent gland loss.

Visual representation of healthy eye glands

Environmental Dry Eye

Dry eye symptoms can have a significant impact on daily activities and make it difficult to perform simple tasks such as reading, watching television, using a computer or enjoying the outdoors.

Excessive digital screen time can lead to an increase in dry eye symptoms resulting from a reduced blink rate.  A healthy blink rate is essential to activating the meibomian glands and spreading a healthy lipid layer over the eye.  When the blink rate is reduced, it can lead to blocked, stagnant oil glands and eventual gland loss.

Other environmental factors that can lead to dry eye symptoms are dry climates, indoor air circulation, wind and smoke.  Age is also a contributing factor.

Man rubbing his eyes

The Good News is We Can Help!


Dry Eye Center of Florida can assess your dry eye condition, and with a simple evaluation, we can help determine if you have MGD. We offer a treatment for MGD with the LipiFlow® Pulsation System. The treatment, a combination of localized heat and gentle but directional pressure, has a restorative effect on your Meibomian gland function. It clears gland obstructions so that your glands can produce the essential oils needed for a healthy tear film and eye.  We also offer Lumenis Optima IPL to treat the underlying inflammation that leads to MGD.

Call today for an appointment!

Couple with clear eyes