Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tears or poor quality tears, which can cause the corner of your eyes to become dry. There are a few possible reasons for this -- age, the environment, medications, medical conditions. Preventing dry eye can help prevent the corners of your eyes from becoming dry as well; there are also treatments.
Dry eye is characterized by insufficient moisture or lubrication in the eye or in the features that protect the eye, according to the Eye Care Source website. A dryness in the eyes and surrounding area are commonly associated with dryness of other mucous membranes, tear production or excessive tear production. Often the dryness and soreness results from constantly wiping away excess tears from your eyes. The corner of your eyes may get irritated, burn or feel gritty and the skin may swell or flake. Hydrated skin has plump cells, but when the skin dries out, those cells shrivel and fine lines may appear, says MayoClinic.com.
Tears help keep the surface of the eye healthy and provide clear vision, according to the American Optometric Association. Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water and mucus. The inner layer of the eye is made up of mucus, which helps spread tears evenly over the surface of your eye. The middle layer is water and salt, which cleanse the eye and wash away irritants. The outer layer consists of oil; this helps slow the evaporation of water in the middle layer. The layers work together to soothe the eye, wash away dust and dirt and defend against infections while providing oxygen and nutrients to the cornea, according to the Eye Care Source website.
The most common reason for your eyes to dry out is a lack of water in the middle layer of your tears, according to the American Optometric Association. Dry eyes can cause the surrounding skin area to dry out as well, leaving a gritty crust in the corners. Hormones or aging are common reasons eyes dry out. Your eyes generate less tears as you get older. Allergies can dry out your eyes and cause the skin to be irritated and red. Your eyes may be itchy, leading to raw skin around the eyes. Sjogren's syndrome is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the mucous membranes, causing them to be extremely dry. Due to an autoimmune disorder, white blood cells damage the glands that secrete fluids, according to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Sjogren's syndrome dries out the corner of the eyes, causing thick secretions to collect in the corners.
The treatment used most often for dry eyes is over-the-counter artificial tears. Whether it's eye drops that provide temporary relief or prescription drops for long-term use, treatment for dry eyes depends on which works best for you. Options are also available for partially or completely closing your tear ducts to help limit the amount of tears lost, according to MayoClinic.com. The plugs block the drainage of tears and can be temporary or permanent. There is no cure for Sjogren's syndrome, but artificial tear drops help keep your eyes moistened.
If you experience dryness in the corner of your eyes, contact your doctor. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to help keep your body hydrated. A nutritious diet that contains vitamins A, C and E, and omega-3 fatty acids are good nutrients for your eyes. Get plenty of sleep and blink often.