Symptoms and Causes of Dry Eye

Puneet Panda, MD provides dry eye services at the Marietta Eye Clinic.

Puneet Panda, MD - Dry Eye Specialist

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Tears are vital to the health and comfort of your eyes. If your eyes do not produce enough tears this condition is called dry eye or dry eye syndrome. Dry eye can also exist when your eyes do not make the right type of tears or tear film. Here is a list of the symptoms of dry eye:

  • You feel a stinging, itching, or burning sensations in your eyes.
  • You feel a scratchy or gritty sensation like something is in your eyes.
  • Your eyes feel fatigued or tired.
  • Your vision sometimes seems blurry.
  • You have sensitivity to light.
  • You experience stringy mucus in your eyes.
  • You find it painful to wear contacts.
  • Your eyes are red or irritated, especially when you are in the wind or near cigarette smoke.
  • Your eyes are constantly watering. This sounds counter-intuitive, but the eyes sometimes produce more tears when they are irritated by dry eye.

Causes of Dry Eye

The causes of dry eye syndrome are still being researched by the medical community, but certain elements are known to cause dry eye. You tend to make fewer tears as you 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:

  • Natural aging process
  • Systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • 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, such as:
    • Diuretics (water pills) for high blood pressure
    • Beta-blockers, for heart problems or high blood pressure
    • Allergy and cold medicines (antihistamines)
    • Sleeping pills
    • Anxiety and antidepressant medicines
    • Heartburn medicines
  • Smoking

When you meet with your eye care provider, ensure you tell them about all the prescription and non-prescription medicines you take.

Understanding Tear Film & Dry Eye

The tear film is made up of three unique layers:

  • Oil layer: Small glands at the perimeter of the eyelid, called meibomian glands, produce the outer, oily layer of the tear film. The main purpose of this oil layer is to smooth the tear surface and decrease evaporation of tears.
  • Aqueous layer: This is the largest of the three layers and it makes up most of what we ordinarily think of as tears. This layer is produced by small glands scattered through the conjunctiva, the delicate membrane lining the inside of eyelid and covering the eyeball, and by the major tear gland, the large lacrimal gland.
  • Mucin layer: The innermost layer consists of mucus produced by goblet cells in the conjunctiva. This layer allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye and helps the eye to remain quite moist. Without mucus, tears would not stick to the eye.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of dry eye in Marietta, schedule an eye exam with one of our dry eye specialists so we can properly diagnose your problem.
Contact us: 770-427-8111

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