A part of the natural aging process, women are more likely to develop dry eyes and are also at greater risk for vision loss.
The causes of dry eyes vary and when tear production and drainage are not in balance, hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, menopause, or the use of oral contraceptives are often factors.
In addition, certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants can reduce tear production.
People with medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes and problems with eyelid inflammation.
Exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can also increase tear evaporation and the long-term use of contact lenses can be a reason for dry eyes.
Computer screens result in people blinking less often and The New York Times noted earlier this month that dry eyes are increasing among young adults.
The NIH National Eye Institute notes that people short on vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids or those with certain autoimmune conditions are more likely to have dry eyes.
Symptoms include redness, burning or stinging feelings, light sensitivity, watery eyes, blurred vision and stringy mucus near the eye.
If left untreated, it can sometimes damage the cornea.
What can be done to relieve and treat dry eyes?
Over-the-counter eye drops, prescription medicines, tear duct plugs and surgery are all options depending on the severity of the dry eyes.
Methods of prevention include removing oneself from environmental conditions that can exacerbate dry eyes, keeping hydrated, sleeping for about seven to eight hours a night, wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside, limiting screen time, taking nutritional supplements and increasing the humidity in the air at work and at home.