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Dry Eye Syndrome (cont.)

What Are Dry Eye Syndrome Risk Factors?

The main risk factors include the following:

  • Increasing age
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction (plugged oil glands of the eyelids) and acne rosacea
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Scarring from prior trauma, infection (keratoconjunctivitis), or exposure of the eye to toxic chemicals
  • Eyelid malposition or paralysis preventing complete blinks
  • Vitamin A deficiency
  • Exposure to excess wind from fans, vents, heaters, and air conditioners

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

People with dry eyes typically experience the following symptoms and signs:

  • Dry, gritty/scratchy, or filmy feeling in the eyes
  • Burning or itching in the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Vision that varies with time of day
  • A sensation of having a foreign body like sand in the eyes
  • Light sensitivity and pain
  • Excess tearing (paradoxically) when the eyes become extremely dry or when exposed to wind
  • Intolerance to wearing contact lenses
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Discharge or crusty material on the eyelashes (when meibomian gland dysfunction is present)

Symptoms and signs often worsen in dry climates, in windy conditions, in higher temperatures with lower humidity, with prolonged use of your eyes (for example, reading, watching TV), and toward the end of the day.

Often there may be intermittent excessive tearing with dry eyes. Irritation may cause reflex tearing, in which a large amount of tears are produced all at once. The excess tears pour over your eyelids and down your cheeks. A short time later, your eyes may become irritated again, and the whole process may repeat itself.

When Should Someone Seek Medical Care for Dry Eye Syndrome?

If you routinely experience any of the following symptoms, you should probably see your eye doctor (optometrist or ophthalmologist):

  • eye pain,
  • excessive tearing,
  • dry, gritty/scratchy, or filmy feeling in the eyes,
  • burning or itching of the eyes,
  • redness of the eyes,
  • blurred vision,
  • difficulty adjusting to contact lenses,
  • a sensation of having a foreign body in the eyes, or
  • light sensitivity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Dry Eye Syndrome »

Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the tears and the ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface.

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