Causes & Symptoms

Dry Eye is a medical condition of the ocular surface system that affects tear production and/or drainage. It is one of the most common disorders seen in any eye doctor’s office. 


The majority of people over the age of 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.The development of dry eyes can have many causes. They include:


Age – dry eye is a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.


Gender – women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause.


Medications – certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.


Medical conditions – persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.


Environmental conditions – exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.


Other factors – long term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.





Patients with Dry Eye may complain of eye stinging, burning, itching, redness, irritation or discomfort. Vision may be blurred, causing difficulty viewing a computer, watching television, or seeing clearly while driving.


What are typical symptoms of dry eye?


Persistent dryness, scratching and burning in your eyes are signs of dry eye syndrome.


Other symptoms of dry eye include:


  • Feeling like there is something in your eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Scratchy, gritty eyes
  • Aching or sore eyes
  • Smarting or burning eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Eyes tire easily, particularly noticeable from reading, watching TV or using a computer
  • Contact lens discomfort or intolerance
  • Excessive mucus discharge
  • Eyes easily irritated by smoke, allergans, fragrances, etc.
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Blurred vision, particularly first thing in the morning, and/or late in the day
  • Eyelids “stick shut” at night
  • Eyelids feel “heavy”



Dry Eyes And Weather


The National Women’s Health Resource Center has named the top 100 dry eye hot spots in the United States based on information compiled from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climatic Data Center and the Environmental Protection Agency.


Factors used in the selection process included temperatures, humidity, wind, altitude, pollutants and ocular allergens.


The top 20 U.S. cities named as dry eye hot spots are:


1. Las Vegas, Nev.
2. Lubbock, Texas*
3. El Paso, Texas*
4. Midland/Odessa, Texas
5. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
6. Atlanta, Ga.
7. Salt Lake City, Utah
8. Phoenix, Ariz.
9. Amarillo, Texas
10. Honolulu, Hawaii
11. Oklahoma City, Okla.
12. Albuquerque, N.M.
13. Tucson, Ariz.
14. Norfolk, Va.
15. Newark, N.J.
16. Boston, Mass.
17. Denver, Colo.
18. Pittsburgh, Pa.
19. Bakersfield, Calif.*
19. Wichita, Kan.*


*Cities were tied for these spots.