Eye dryness can lead to occasional grittiness, scratchiness, irritation, and more. And let’s be real—if your eyes are burning, watering, or feeling sore at times, it’s tough to focus on whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish.
The question is, what causes eye dryness (and all that comes with it) in the first place?
It all starts with the lacrimal and meibomian glands, Rai explains. These special eye glands create a tri-layered tear film made of solute proteins, electrolytes, antioxidants, and ascorbic acid that lay across the outer surface of the eye, nourishing the organ and maintaining its moisture. (A robust film, of course, assumes you’re regularly consuming adequate amounts of electrolyte minerals, antioxidants, and vitamin C).
The film also provides a layer of protection against free radicals and other stressors—like dust, pollutants, and other foreign substances—to ensure clear visibility.
Eye dryness occurs when something changes in the makeup of the tear film, Rai says, citing oxidative stress (an abundance of free radicals floating around the area) as a common offender. “[Oxidative stress] can impact all three layers in the tear film,” Rai tells mbg. “Additionally, these changes could reduce the tear volume and alter the composition of the tears, stimulating a series of events that can trigger pro-inflammatory pathways.”