Dry Eyes

Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

Here are some of the symptoms of dry eye.

  • You feel like your eyes are stinging and burning.
  • Blurred vision, especially when reading
  • There is a scratchy or gritty feeling like something is in your eye.
  • There are strings of mucus in or around your eyes.
  • Your eyes are red or irritated. This is especially true when you are in the wind or near cigarette smoke.
  • It is painful to wear contact lenses.
  • You have lots of tears in your eyes.
  • Having a lot of tears in your eyes with dry eyes might sound odd. But your eyes make more tears when they are irritated by dry eyes.

What Are the Main Causes of Dry Eye?

People tend to make fewer tears as they get older due to hormonal changes. Both men and women can get dry eye. However, it is more common in women—especially those who have gone through menopause.

Here are some other causes of dry eye.

  • Certain diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, and lupus
  • Blepharitis (when eyelids are swollen or red)
  • Entropion (when eyelids turn in); ectropion (eyelids turn outward)
  • Being in smoke, wind or a very dry climate
  • Looking at a computer screen for a long time, reading and other activities that reduce blinking
  • Using contact lenses for a long time
  • Having refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK
  • Taking certain medicines: Tell your ophthalmologist about all the prescription and non-prescription medicines you take.

How Is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

  • Your ophthalmologist will begin with an eye exam. They will look at your eyelids and the surface of the eye. They will also check how you blink.
  • There are many different tests that help diagnose dry eyes. Your ophthalmologist may do a test that measures the quality or the thickness of your tears. They may also measure how quickly you produce tears.

Does Dry Eye Go Away?

  1. Treating Dry Eye by Adding Tears
    • Your ophthalmologist might tell you to use artificial tears. These are eye drops that are like your own tears. You can use artificial tears as often as you need to. You can buy artificial tears without a prescription. There are many brands. Try a few until you find a brand that works best for you.
    • If you use artificial tears more than six times a day or are allergic to preservatives, you should use preservative-free tears. This is because the tears with preservatives may start to irritate your eyes.
  1. Stop Dry Eye by Saving Tears
    • Your ophthalmologist may suggest blocking your tear ducts. This makes your natural tears stay in your eyes longer. Tiny silicone or gel plugs (called punctal plugs) may be inserted in your tear ducts. These plugs can be removed later as needed. Your ophthalmologist could also recommend surgery that permanently closes your tear ducts.
  2. Your ophthalmologist might have you use a prescription eyedrop medication. This helps your eyes make more of their own tears.
  3. Treating Dry Eye Culprits
    • If your eyes are irritated, your ophthalmologist can treat those problems. They may recommend:
      1. prescription eye drops or ointments
      2. warm compresses on the eyes
      3. massaging your eyelids
      4. certain eyelid cleaners

Dry Eye Prevention Tips

  • Try not to use a hair dryer, if possible.
  • Stay away from very warm rooms. In the winter, add moisture to the air with a humidifier. Or put a pan of water near your heater or radiator.
  • Protect your eyes from the drying wind by wearing wrap-around glasses outside.
  • Talk to your ophthalmologist about adding Supplements to your diet for dry eye relief like flax seeds, or other Supplements.
  • Do you wake up with dry and scratchy eyes? Use artificial tear ointment or thick eye drops just before you go to bed.