Dry Eyes: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Dry eyes is a condition where the tears do not provide enough lubrication for the eyes. This happens when the tear ducts do not produce enough tears or if the tears are not good quality. Dry eyes can be uncomfortable and even painful. For some people, they can interfere with daily life. The condition can appear in certain situations or can be constant. There are treatments available to help relieve the pain and discomfort of dry eyes.

Dry Eye Causes

Dry eyes are caused tears that are not lubricating the eyes properly. A number of things can cause dry eyes, and people who suffer from this condition should work to avoid the triggers. Understanding the cause of a patient’s dry eyes can help doctors come up with an appropriate treatment. It can sometimes be hard to determine the cause of dry eyes, and patients and doctors may need to rule out different triggers and causes to find the right one. Some common causes and triggers include:

Dry Eye Symptoms

People who suffer from dry eyes usually experience the same symptoms in both eyes. In rare occasions, only one eye will be affected. Some people will have very few symptoms, and others may suffer from numerous ones. Some of the most common symptoms of dry eyes include:

Dry Eye Diagnosis

Dry eyes themselves can be diagnosed by the symptoms. Diagnosing the cause of the dry eyes is equally as important as it can help doctors determine the best treatment option. It can sometimes be hard to determine what is causing a patient’s symptoms. Doctors use a variety of tests to diagnose the problem. Some of the most common tests used include:

  • Eye exam
  • Measuring the volume of tears produced
  • Checking the quality of the patient’s tears

Dry Eye Treatment

The treatment for dry eyes depends on the causes and severity of the condition. If the symptoms are mild and the patient only experiences dry eyes occasionally, over-the-counter eye drops may work. For severe or chronic dry eyes, other treatments may be an option. Some of these treatments include:

  • Medications to reduce eyelid inflammation
  • Medications to reduce cornea inflammation
  • Eye inserts that make tears
  • Medications that stimulate tear production
  • Autologous blood serum drops
  • Unblocking oil glands
  • Eyelid massage
  • Light therapy

Dry Eye Prognosis

Dry eyes are not considered a serious or life-threatening disease, so the prognosis is good. Most people are able to find relief for their dry eyes with over-the-counter medications or other forms of treatment. Finding the cause of the dry eyes and avoiding that cause is another option.


American Academy of Ophthalmology