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Causes of Dry Itchy Eyes

by
author image Jonathan VanDam
Jonathan VanDam has written professionally for work assignments since 2006. He currently works in the counseling and academic fields. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in psychology from Mercy College in 2007 and Master of Science in psychology from University of Phoenix in 2009. VanDam is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in health psychology.
Causes of Dry Itchy Eyes
A dandelion blowing apart in the wind in front of a blue sky. Photo Credit schulle77/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

The eye is one of the most sensitive organs in the body. The American Academy of Ophthalmology states that approximately 4.3 million people in 2008 suffered from dry eye issues. People with dry, itchy eyes may have similar symptoms with different causes underlying the symptoms. The causes of dry, itchy eyes can range from allergies to aging and have a frequency of mild to severe. Eye examinations can reveal specific eye issues, but there are some common causes.

Aging

Decreased tear production is common in people over 40. As you age, the eyes reduce in lubrication, moisture and lipid production. The lipid layer is the oily top layer of the tear film that prevents aqueous tears from evaporating, states Dry Eye Zone. Not producing enough moisture to keep the eyes lubricated will cause eye irritation and this is common in older people, especially in women who have gone through menopause.

Allergies

Many allergens such as dust mites, pollen, dander, mold and household chemicals can cause dry itchy eyes. Allergies also come from certain foods and stings from insects. Approximately 30 to 50 percent of people in the United States have allergy symptoms, with approximately 75 percent of symptoms affecting the eyes, states All About Vision. When the surface of your eye is exposed to allergens, it triggers the release of histamines, causing inflammation, dry eyes and itching.

Medication

Both prescription and over-the-counter medications cause side effects that include reduction in tear production. Certain types of antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills, sleeping pills, diuretics and opiates, among others, cause dry eyes and irritation, states Eye Care Source. You can check with a physician or pharmacy to find if a medication you take has dry, itchy eye side effects.

Immune System Disorders

Certain Immune system disorders can contribute to dry, itchy eyes, such as Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjogren’s syndrome results when the body's white blood cells mistakenly attack moisture-producing glands, resulting in inflammation and reduction in tear production, reports National Eye Institute. Symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include itchy and dry eyes, dryness of the mouth, joint pain and fatigue. Other immune system disorders that can cause dry, itchy eyes include lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.

Environmental Factors

The sun, wind, dry climate and high altitude can have adverse effects on how the eyes produce moisture and have drying effects. Environmental pollutants, such as air pollution and cigarette smoke, contribute to dry, itchy eyes as well.

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