Dry Eye: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatments


Dry eye is a condition in which your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly. It affects more than 10 million people in the U.S. and can be caused by a variety of factors ranging from chronic eye disease to environmental conditions such as hot climates, air conditioning, wind/snow storms, or high altitudes (all of which can cause dryer air). Dry eye can also occur as a side effect of certain medications such as antihistamines (like Benadryl), birth control pills, diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), chemotherapy drugs used for cancer treatment such as cyclophosphamide or methotrexate , and chemotherapeutic agents like vincristine sulfate (Oncovin) or interferon-alpha used for leukemia treatment). This article discusses causes, symptoms , prevention strategies and treatments available for dry eye .


Dry eye can be caused by an underlying condition.

  • Systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and Sjogren’s Syndrome (an autoimmune disorder) are associated with dry eye.
  • Certain medications can lead to dry eye including antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, beta blockers and blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors that affect the cornea and tear film stability.
  • Infections such as herpes simplex virus type 1 or cytomegalovirus can cause inflammation in the cornea which leads to decreased tear production and symptoms of dryness or pain when blinking


Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Eye irritation, soreness, or pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling of something in the eye (like a foreign object)
  • Dryness and/or redness of the eyes, especially after awakening in the morning or from lying down for a long time on your back. These symptoms may be worse when you’re tired.



  • Artificial tears. A doctor can recommend several different types of artificial tears, depending on the severity of your dry eye symptoms. These products help to keep the eyes moist and prevent them from becoming inflamed.
  • Warm compress or cold compress. You can use a warms compress to gently open up your tear ducts; if you prefer a cold compress, hold it against your closed eyelids for 2-5 minutes at a time (do not freeze!). The heat will stimulate blood flow and circulation in that area while the cold keeps things cool down there while soothing any inflammation or swelling you may have in these areas as well.* Visor
  • Glasses/contacts/sunglasses

Dry eye is a chronic condition that can be treated, but not cured.

Dry eye is a chronic condition that can be treated, but not cured. Treatment is available for all cases of dry eye, but it may not always be effective for your particular condition. Some treatments are more affordable than others and may work better for some people than others.

Dry eyes can be caused by aging, certain medications or medical conditions, eye surgery, and certain weather conditions (for example high winds). If you think you have dry eyes consult with your doctor to see if they recommend any specific treatment options that might help resolve your symptoms quickly and efficiently..


Dry eye is a common condition, and the good news is that it can be treated effectively. The first step to treating dry eye is to identify the underlying cause. Once you know what the problem is, there are many treatment options available including artificial tears, prescription eyedrops with preservatives or preservative-free drops, punctal plugs and other medications that help reduce inflammation in your eyes.

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