What is Dry Eye?

Sep 20, 2022 | Dry Eye

Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. Women are also more likely than men to experience dry eye.  

Read this blog to learn more about dry eye, including symptoms, causes, and how to prevent it.  

What are the symptoms of dry eye?  

The most common symptom of dry eye is a burning sensation in the eyes. Other symptoms include stinging, scratchiness, redness, stringy mucus in or around the eyes, painful swelling, light sensitivity, blurred vision, and the feeling of something foreign like sand in the eyes.  

Putting aside the medical component, patients often find the decreased quality of life most frustrating. When dry eyes make it difficult to enjoy everyday activities like reading, or you find yourself constantly having to put lubricating drops in your eyes, your quality of life can be affected. Our doctors take this very seriously and we’ll work with you to restore the quality of life you desire and deserve.  

What causes dry eye?  

There are many possible causes of dry eye: dry climate, windy conditions, staring at computer screens or other digital devices for long periods of time (computer vision syndrome), reading, driving for long distances, smoking tobacco products, certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, blood pressure medications (beta blockers), hormones (oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy during menopause), eyelid problems such as blepharitis (chronic inflammation of the eyelid) or meibomian gland dysfunction (blockage of oil glands along the edge of the eyelid).  

How is dry eye diagnosed?  

A comprehensive dilated eye exam is necessary to diagnose dry eye and rule out other potential problems. During this comprehensive eye exam, your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will also conduct several tests including measurement of tear production; testing corneal sensitivity; examination of the eyelids; assessment of meibomian gland function; evaluation of blinking quality; and examination of the ocular surface with a microscope.  

How can I prevent dry eye?  

There are several preventative measures you can take to reduce the effects of dry eyes. Avoid air blowing in your eyes, for example, a fan at work or the AC in your car. Use a humidifier in the winter to add moisture to the air. Take eye breaks during long tasks, such as staring at a computer for several hours. Avoid smoking or smoky environments and use artificial tears regularly. Also consider the foods and drinks you consume, which can play a role in ocular dryness. Our doctors can review this with you.  


If you’re experiencing any dry eye symptoms, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with one of our optometrists. While there is no cure for dry eye, there are treatments available that can help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.