Dry eye is a reduction in your eye’s ability to produce sufficient natural tears. Insufficient tear production can lead to irritation and pain, and even scarring of the cornea (the transparent part of the eye that covers the pupil and iris). Many people will experience dry eye symptoms at some point in their lives, although women and contact lens wearers tend to suffer more frequently from this condition.
Some symptoms of dry eye include a “burning” sensation or “scratch” or “gritty” feeling in the eyes. You may also experience decreased tolerance to contact lens wear or sensitivity to light. Patients with dry eye often complain of symptoms such as:
- feeling of dryness
- gritty or foreign body sensation
- burning sensation and stinging
- tired eyes
- paradoxically, watering eyes
Treatment options include dietary modifications and supplements, use of artificial tears, insertion of punctal plugs and prescription eye drops.
How to prevent or minimize dry eye symptoms
- Avoid drafts from heating or air conditioning vents, especially in cars and airplanes.
- Take frequent breaks to relieve eye strain during periods of prolonged computer use.
- Remove your contact lenses and keep them especially clean when your eyes are feeling dry.
- After LASIK surgery, use artificial eye drops to soothe and comfort your dry eyes during recovery.
- Be aware that certain over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs can contribute to dry eye symptoms.
- Use a humidifier at home and in your workplace.