Causes And Symptoms Of Dry Eyes And How To Cure Them

Are your eyes feeling itchy, scratchy, and uncomfortably dry? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of people around the world suffer from dry eyes.

It’s a common eye problem in which tears cannot provide adequate lubrication for the eyes.

Scratchy, itchy, and dry eyes bothering you? You’re in good company; dry eyes plague millions globally. This widespread issue occurs when our peepers can’t muster enough tears for proper lubrication.

“Let’s not brush off dry eyes as a small nuisance,” warns Dr. Stephen Pflugfelder, top dog at Baylor College of Medicine’s Ocular Surface Center. “It’s a severe health concern messing with a person’s life quality.”

Getting a grip on this visual health snafu is key to preserving not only eye health but also overall well-being. This article sheds light on the symptoms and causes of dry eyes and offers helpful hacks for managing and treating this prevalent problem.

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes? 

Physicians at the American Academy of Ophthalmology specify the common symptoms of dry eyes as follows:

  • A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • redness in the eyes
  • Blurred vision or difficulty focusing
  • Eye fatigue
  • Feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Watery eyes (as a result of excessive dryness)

What Causes Dry Eyes? 

Dry eyes come into play when the tear film, your eyes’ natural lubricant, hits a rough patch. This snafu can pop up for a host of reasons. Composed of three amigos – fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus, the tear film’s job is to keep your eyes slick and sharp. If one of these buddies drops the ball, you’re headed to dry eye town.

The National Eye Institute, U.S.A., states dysfunction of lacrimal glands is the main cause of dry eye syndrome.

The dysfunction of tear films occurs for reasons such as:

  • autoimmune disease
  • hormone changes
  • allergic eye disease
  • inflamed eyelid glands

A decrease in tear production can happen because of the following:


As the years roll on, dry eyes become more of a nuisance, thanks to the natural downswing in tear-making. Ladies, brace yourselves! Menopause often brings along this unwelcome guest due to the hormonal rollercoaster.

Certain medical conditions

Allergic eye disease, Jogren’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, scleroderma, or vitamin A deficiency can cause low tear production.

Certain medications

You’d be surprised, but certain medicines, think Parkinson’s, birth control, blood pressure, or even acne treatments, can sadly dry your tear ducts out over time. On a similar note, don’t forget about antidepressants, decongestants, antihistamines, and hormone therapies – they can all throw a wet blanket on your tear production too.

Environmental factors

Staring at screens for extended periods can reduce the blink rate, leading to dry eyes. This is commonly referred to as digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome.

Living in areas with low humidity or windy conditions can cause tears to evaporate more quickly, contributing to dry eye symptoms.


Even dehydration can be the culprit. When the body is dehydrated, it lacks the necessary fluids to function optimally, which can affect various systems, including the production of tears. It’s crucial to drink water to prevent dehydration of the body and dryness of the eyes.

Corneal nerve desensitivity

Certain eye surgeries or nerve injuries can damage the tear-producing glands or affect the quality of tears, resulting in dry eyes. Prolonged use of contact lenses can also cause temporary dryness in the eyes.

Increased tear evaporation

Too much tear evaporation is another reason for excessive dryness in the eyes. It happens for eyelid problems, less blinking, posterior blepharitis, allergies, wind or smoke, preservatives in topical eye drops, and vitamin A deficiency.

Problems with Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can lead to a range of problems, including:

Discomfort: Dry eyes can leave you grappling with discomforts like burning, stinging, or itching.

Eye infections: When the eye’s protective film doesn’t cut it, you’re more prone to eye infections.

Eye damage: Letting dry eyes slide could fan the flames of cornea inflammation – the transparent front bit of your eye.

Decreased quality of life: Dry eyes can put a wrench in daily routines like reading, driving, or marathon computer use. They can even make your peepers more wind and light-sensitive.

Vision problems: In the worst-case scenario, dry eyes could blur or twist your vision, making even the simplest task a challenge.

Psychological distress: The constant struggle with dry eyes can wreak havoc on your psyche, upping anxiety and depression levels.

dry eye

How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

Accurate diagnosis and assessment of dry eye are crucial for determining the most effective treatment plan. Eye care professionals use various methods to diagnose conditions, including:

Comprehensive eye examination

An eye doctor will conduct an eye examination. Further, it may include reviewing the patient’s medical history. The doctor assesses their visual acuity and evaluates their overall eye health.

Standard tests to diagnose dry eyes

Several tests can help determine the presence and severity of dry eye, such as:

Schirmer’s test: This test measures tear production by placing a small strip of paper under the lower eyelid for a few minutes. The amount of moisture the paper absorbs reveals whether the patient has reduced tear production.

Tear breakup time test: The tear breakup time exam gauges your eye’s tear film consistency. Here’s how it works: your optometrist will put a dash of dye into your peepers. After a blink, they’ll watch for the first signs of dryness surfacing on your eyeballs and time it.

Ocular surface staining: With a bit of special dye, your eye doc can spot any cornea or conjunctiva damage from dry eyes. This dye acts like a spotlight, revealing any oddities on your eye’s surface.

What are the Best Treatments for Dry Eyes Disease?

Dry eyes can cause blurry vision in many people. It can also cause light sensitivity, irritation, discomfort, fatigue, eye fatigue, and an increased risk of infection. But hey, don’t fret! There’s a smorgasbord of dry eye treatments, ranging from lifestyle changes to prescribed remedies. So, hang in there; brighter days are ahead!

Lifestyle changes

Drinking enough water: Staying properly hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day can help maintain the balance of the tear film and alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Taking breaks from screens: Following the 20-20-20 rule (taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away) can help reduce digital eye strain and alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Humidifiers: Using a humidifier to maintain optimal humidity levels indoors can help prevent tear evaporation and relieve dry eye symptoms.

Avoiding direct exposure to air vents: Position yourself away from direct airflows. Stying away from fans or air conditioning vents can minimize tear evaporation and reduce dry eye discomfort.

Wearing sunglasses outdoors: Sunglasses with wraparound frames can protect the eyes from wind, dust, and harmful UV rays. Sunglasses help maintain moisture and reduce dry eye symptoms.  Felix Gray offers research-backed glasses that match your eyewear needs.

Healthy diet: Eat diets rich in vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.

Over-the-counter remedies

Artificial tears: Artificial tears or eye drops can be a real game-changer, stepping in to bolster your natural tear film and easing those pesky dry eye symptoms.

Lubricating ointments provide long-lasting relief from dry eye symptoms, particularly during sleep, when tear production decreases.

Prescription treatments

Anti-inflammatory eye drops: Cyclosporine or lifitegrast can reduce inflammation and increase tear production to alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Punctal plugs: They’re these nifty little gadgets that fit into your tear ducts, blocking them to keep your eyes nice and moist.

Topical corticosteroids: On the flip side, sometimes a dose of topical corticosteroids does the trick. Used sparingly, they can take down inflammation and give dry eye symptoms the boot.

Alternative therapies

Warm compresses: A warm compress on your eyes is magic! It doesn’t just help trigger tear production but also boosts their quality. Pretty neat, huh?

Omega-3 supplements: Fatty acids, the golden goodness in some fish types, can be your ticket to healthier eyes. Not a fish fan? No worries! Fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements are there to save the day.

Eyelid massage: A gentle eyelid massage can also work like a charm, waking up the meibomian glands that whip up the oil part of your tear film.

Dry Eyes: A Brief Overview

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can contacts lenses cause dry eyes?

Indeed, contact can lead to both short-term and long-term dry eyes. They limit your eyes' oxygen intake, causing irritation and dryness, and can also trap grime and bacteria, spurring inflammation.

Can dry eyes cause headaches?

Sure, dry eyes and headaches can happen together due to common triggers, but one doesn't directly cause the other. Eye strain from dryness could, however, spark mild headaches for some.

Why are my eyes dry when I wake up?

Sleeping dries your eyes as tears decrease and eyelids close. Plus, a dry room can sap your body's moisture. Combat this with eye drops, sleep masks, or bedtime ointment.

Can allergies cause dry eyes?

Yep, allergies can make your eyes dry and itchy. Allergy meds might worsen the dryness, while your body's histamine release can lead to eye inflammation and irritation.

Can dry eyes cause floaters?

Dry eyes don't directly cause floaters, those spots dance in your sight. They're usually due to aging changes in the vitreous. But eye issues, like infections or inflammation from dryness, might trigger floaters.

Can dry eyes cause vitreous detachment?

Dry eyes are not a direct cause of vitreous detachment. Vitreous detachment is a common age-related condition arising from shrinking a gel-like substance (vitreous) inside the eye.

Can stress cause dry eyes?

Indeed, stress can trigger or worsen dry eyes. Stress hormones can mess with the tears your eyes produce and can even lessen the moisture-keeping fluids in your eyes.

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