Shaila Shakil B.Optom

Student,  NSHM Knowledge Campus – Kolkata, India


Dry eye syndrome is a prevalent ocular condition which is affecting millions of people worldwide. While various factors contribute to its development, emerging research suggests a strong connection between environmental factors and the exacerbation of dry eye symptoms, shedding a light on how our surroundings play a pivotal role in ocular health.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when the tears can’t provide adequate lubrication to your eyes. The medical term for this is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. (1)  It happens when the eyes don’t have enough tears, or the tears evaporate quickly.

Symptoms related to dry eyes:

  • A stinging, burning, or scratching sensation in eyes. (1)
  • Watery eyes. (2)
  • Sensitivity to lights.
  • Stringy mucus near the eye. (1)
  • Blurry vision. (2)

There are many factors which contribute to the development of dry eye such as age, gender, or any underlying health conditions. However, some recent studies highlight the impact of environmental influences in the onset and severity of this disease.

How environmental factors affect dry eyes?

  • Air quality – It is a significant environmental factor which has a severe impact on dry eye syndrome . Polluted air irritates the eyes which causes them to dry more quickly. People who live in cities with a high rate of pollution, experience the chronic symptoms of dry eye. Poor indoor air quality can also trigger dry eyes. (3)
  • Climate change – Places with hot and dry climate can lead to eyes drying out more quickly, which leads to an increase in the symptom of dry eyes. They also have an impact on how an individual hydrates themselves in high temperatures as the low humidity levels cause more water loss in the body. (4)
  • Screen time – The prevalence of digital devices today has led to an increase in the cases of computer vision syndrome which is directly associated with dry eyes syndrome. Prolonged exposure to computer screens or mobile screens can lead to dry eyes. As people usually blink less when using digital devices, it quickly dries up the eyes. The digital screens also emit blue light which can also lead to eye strains and dryness. (3)
  • The lifestyle factors – Certain lifestyle factors can also lead to the onset of dry eye syndrome. Like smoking and drinking: Smoking irritates the eyes and drinking also causes dryness as it dehydrates the body which can again lead to the symptoms of dry eye. Lifestyle factors also play a pivotal role, such as a balanced diet. If an individual is lacking Omega-3 fatty acid in their diet and not drinking ample amount of water can affect tear production and. (4)

How to manage dry eye syndrome?

Managing dry eye syndrome depends upon the individual root cause of the onset of the disease. In general, it does not have a set cure and people need to try all the possible treatment options and find which is more effective for them to manage the condition. Some treatment options are –

  • Prescription and lubricating eye drop can reduce dryness. (5)
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Limit the screen time and blink in every 20 seconds when using a digital device to lubricate the surface of the eyes. (5)
  • Frequently wash the eyelids with clean water. (5)
  • Use a humidifier in your home to keep the air from getting too dry. (6)
  • Give warm or cold compresses.
  • Wear sunglasses when going outside. (6)

The environment plays a crucial role in the development and exacerbation of dry eye syndrome. Awareness of these environmental factors is essential for individuals seeking to manage or prevent dry eye syndrome. As the research in this field continues to advance, understanding and addressing environmental factors will remain pivotal in developing effective strategies for the prevention and management of dry eye syndrome.



  1. Lindor, K. D., Gershwin, M. E., Poupon, R., Kaplan, M., Bergasa, N. V., & Heathcote, E. J. (2009). Primary biliary cirrhosis. Hepatology, 50(1), 291–308.
  2. Franco, O. H., Gaviria, J. G., Varas, J. M., & Chowdhury, R. (2020). Eye health in older people at the time of corona. Maturitas, 139, 98–100.
  3. Schaumberg, D. A., Sullivan, D. A., Buring, J. E., & Dana, M. (n.d.). Prevalence of dry eye syndrome among US women. American Journal of Ophthalmology.
  4. Punchadmin, & Punchadmin. (2024, March 18). Can the Environment Cause Dry Eyes? – Visu Dry Eye. Visu Dry Eye
  5. Schaumberg, D. A., Sullivan, D. A., Buring, J. E., & Dana, M. (n.d.). Prevalence of dry eye syndrome among US women. American Journal of Ophthalmology.
  6. Wolkoff, P., Skov, P., Franck, C., & Petersen, L. N. (2003). Eye irritation and environmental factors in the office environment-hypotheses, causes and a physiological model. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 29(6), 411–430.