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Can our meds cause our glands to stop producing tears?

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  • Can our meds cause our glands to stop producing tears?

    I have been wondering something for a while and would like to throw it out and see what others think. I know that if you take medication to make your body do something that it normally does, like if you take a laxative every day, your body will stop doing what it needs to help you expel that BM because it does not need to. I have been concerned that perhaps all of these drops and drugs that I am taking for my dry eyes has might be doing the same sort of thing. In that my tear glands now think they don't have to do anything because I put in drops every hour or more often. I did ask my doctor about this and he said no that was not the case. My eyes went from making not enough tears to making no tears in a year or so all while I was on different kinds of eye drops.

    Any opinions?

  • #2
    I think the opposite is more likely, that keeping the eye surface lubricated is more likely to control some of the inflammatory substances that interfere with the feedback loop that ensures the lacrimal gland works normally, in the case of aqueous dry eye at least. The page below explains this with an animated diagram:

    dry eye feedback loop

    If the eye surface remains dry for a long time, the nerves that send signals become damaged, the cornea loses sensitivity and sends fewer signals to brain/gland, resulting in fewer tears/more dryness. I used to wonder why I could go so long without blinking, without realising that my cornea had lost a lot of sensation due to long-term aqueous deficiency. My ophthalmologist did say that it can be counterproductive to put drops in too frequently, celluvisc should last about an hour, using it more frequently just disrupts the tear film unnecessarily. If you need to use drops more often than that, then a viscous, gel-type drop might be better as they stay in the eye for much longer.

    However, it's quite possible that medications can add to the problem in other types of dry eye, such as ocular rosacea or genuine allergic disease. The trouble with rosacea is that blood vessel/nerve inflammation can be triggered by chemicals that don't show up as irritants in dermal patch testing, so it will always be highly subjective as to whether they are causing a problem. Personally I find most eye drops worsen my eye irritation. I have just undergone extensive patch testing to see which chemicals might be causing a problem with completely negative results, as the problem is rosacea rather than allergic dermatitis. Sadly, rosacea is still an area of great mystery to most ophths and many derms.
    Last edited by y-gwair; 23-Aug-2011, 04:58.


    • #3
      I did not realize that your eyes would slow down production of tears if they were not lubricated. Thank you so much for the helpful information. I think I go put some serum drops in. Oh, you said that drops seem to worsen your eye irritation. I find that serum drops are the only kind of drops that NEVER bother my eyes, although the last 2 days they don't seem to be helping as much as normal. I don't know why.