Dry eye is characterized by a combination of one or several irritating symptoms. This condition can be chronic or acute, and your symptoms may even change at times. Dry eye disease is becoming increasingly common and can significantly impact your day-to-day life, sometimes making even the smallest of tasks seem difficult.
If you experience eye pain, blurry vision, and dry or watery eyes, it could be a sign that you have dry eye disease. Dry eye can be triggered by several different things, from health conditions and medications to environmental and lifestyle factors. These symptoms can include:
• Dry, irritated, or red eyes
• Excessive tearing/watery eyes
• Feeling like you have something in your eyes
• Inflammation or redness
• Sore, sensitive, or itchy eyes
• A gritty or pasty feeling in the eyelids
• Crusty or gunky eyes
• Blurred vision
• Light sensitivity
The front of your eye (comprised of the iris, cornea, lens and pupil) filters in light and focuses an image onto the membrane at the back of the eye, called the retina. This membrane sends electrical signals to the optic nerve, which then funnels them to the brain so you can understand what you’re seeing. Most importantly, the eye needs to stay lubricated for peak functionality.
Dry eye occurs when your eyes don’t get enough moisture. Without proper lubrication, they can feel itchy and painful, often accompanied by a burning sensation or vision issues. Dry eye can be triggered by other factors, but it’s primarily the result of decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation. This means that your eyes aren’t making enough tears or that your overall tear quality isn’t up to speed.
Many factors can contribute to dry eye, including:
• Tear duct infection or inflammation
• Environmental conditions, like dry air, heat and smoke
• Pre-existing health issues, such as diabetes or autoimmune disorders
• Medications, like some that treat acne, depression or blood pressure
• Too much screen time, which can cause infrequent blinking
• Natural aging process and hormonal changes
• Frequent or long-term contact lens use
• Laser eye surgery and other procedures