Dry eyes – symptoms, causes, risk factors and complications

Dry eyes

Dry eyes is a very common condition. It happens when your tears are not providing adequate lubrication for your eyes. There are many reasons why our tears can be inadequate. When you produce poor – quality tears or if you do not produce enough tears, then these can be reasons why your tears are inadequate. When you have this problem, then you can feel uncomfortable. In many cases when people have dry eyes, then can feel burn or sting sensations in their eyes. There are many situations in which people can feel dry eyes such as when they are looking at computer screen for a few hours [1], while they are riding a bike, when they are on an airplane or when they are in air – conditioned room [2]. There are many treatments for this problem which can help you to feel comfortable. In the most cases eye drops and the changes in the lifestyle are the treatments which are recommended for this condition. But before you start using some home remedy or medication you should talk with your doctor. You should never take something or your own because you do not know if it helps you.

Symptoms of dry eyes

When you have dry eyes, then this condition usually affects the both eyes. There are many signs and symptoms which you can feel such as [3]

  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue
  • Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • A stinging, scratchy or burning sensation in your eyes

If you have some of the mentioned signs and symptoms in long period, then you should talk with your doctor. Also you should make an appointment with your doctor if you have painful, tired, irritated or red eyes. Your doctor can see what the cause for your pain is. If he or she finds that you have serious cause, then they will refer you to specialist. You should tell your doctor what symptoms you are feeling. Also you should tell him if you have used any medication for dry eyes.

Dry eyesCauses of dry eyes

Causes: When you have a lack of adequate tears, then this can lead to dry eyes. Our tears are a complex mixture of mucus, fatty oils and water. This is a mixture which makes the surface of your eyes clear and smooth. Also this mixture will help you to protect your eyes from infections. In the most cases the reason which leads to dry eyes is decreased production of tears. Also there are cases when the imbalance of makeup in their tears or increased tear evaporation is a reason which leads to dry eyes.

Risk factors: There are many factors which can increase the risk of getting dry eyes such as

  • Wearing contact lenses [4]
  • Diet low in an omega – 3 fatty acids or Vitamin A: People who consume low diet of fatty acids or Vitamin A have increased chances to get dry eyes. This is a reason why they should consume products rich with these elements such as vegetable oils, walnuts and fish which are rich with an omega – 3 fatty acids and broccoli or carrots which are rich with Vitamin A. Also this vitamin is found in the liver. [5]
  • Being a woman: When women are pregnant, then they have increased chances to get dry eyes because they use birth control pills which can change their hormones. Also there can be hormone changes in their menopause. [6]
  • Being older than 50: As people are getting older the tear production is tending to diminish. This is a reason why people who are over 50 mostly are having this problem.

Complications: People who suffer from dry eyes can have some of the next complications:

  • Decreased quality of life: When you have dry eyes, then you can have problems to finish the everyday activities such as reading.
  • Eye infections: Our tears are having the function to protect the surface of our eyes from infections. If you do not have adequate amount of tears, then you have increased chances to get eye infections. [7]
  • Damage to the surface of your eyes: You should treat the dry eyes because if you do not treat them, then you can have an eye inflammation; You can have vision problems, corneal ulcer or abrasion of the corneal surface.


[1] Sheppard AL, Wolffsohn JS. Digital eye strain: prevalence, measurement and amelioration. BMJ Open Ophthalmology. 2018;3(1):e000146. doi:10.1136/bmjophth-2018-000146

[2] Sommer HJ, Johnen J, Schöngen P, Stolze HH. Adaptation of the tear film to work in air-conditioned rooms (office-eye syndrome). German Journal of Ophthalmology. 1994;3(6):406-8.

[3] National Eye Institute. Dry eye. Retrieved from www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/dry-eye

[4] Markoulli M, Kolanu S. Contact lens wear and dry eyes: challenges and solutions. Clinical Optometry. 2017;941–8.

[5] Liu A, Ji J. Omega-3 essential fatty acids therapy for dry eye syndrome: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled studies. Medical Science Monitor. 2014;20:1583–9. doi:10.12659/MSM.891364

[6] Nkiru N, Stella O, Udeh N, et al. Dry eye disease: A longitudinal study among pregnant women in Enugu, south east, Nigeria. The Ocular Surface. 2019;17(3):458-63.

[7] Javadi M-A, Feizi S. Dry eye syndrome. Journal of Ophthalmic & Vision Research. 2011;6(3):192–8.


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