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Risk Factors for Dry Eye Disease

Dry Eye Disease is a chronic condition that is becoming more prevalent by the year. There are many risk factors that can contribute to this condition that we should be mindful of. One of the most obvious risk factors that we may all know of is age. We’ve seen for years that dry eye is more common in the older population, this could be due to changes in lid anatomy, cataract surgery, meibomian gland atrophy and much more. However, we are starting to see more dry eye signs in a younger demographic as well, which leads us into our next risk factor. 

The modern risk factor is excessive screen time, whether it be with your job or students with school work. While we’re using the computer or looking at a screen, our blinking rate is reduced significantly and we tend to do more incomplete blinks. With reduced blinks, we are not stimulating the oil glands to express oil into our tears and we are not spreading an adequate layer of tears on our eye surface. Being mindful of our blinking habits can help provide some relief and prevent permanent meibomian gland damage.

Another risk factor is our Western diet. Most of the food options that are readily available contain significantly more omega 6 than omega 3. This offsets our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, or in other words, our pro-inflammatory to our anti-inflammatory ratio, respectively. Due to the lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients, we are disrupting our gut health which in turn is leading to overall inflammation in our body. This inflammation can also lead to poor quality oil in our tears, which disrupts the lubricity of the eyes and leads to discomfort.

There are many more important risk factors, which include autoimmune or systemic conditions, certain medication use, contact lens wear, ocular surgery, ocular surface irritants in makeup and many more. Schedule a comprehensive dry eye evaluation to determine what your risk factors may be.

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