eye drops for dry eye

Dry Eye: Common Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Tears lubricate the eyes and wash away particles and foreign objects. A healthy tear film on the eye is necessary for good vision. Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the natural tear film that covers the surface of the eye is insufficient. UPMC Eye Center ophthalmologists Andrew Eller, MD, and Leela Raju, MD, explain more about this common condition.

Causes of Dry Eye

There are a number of causes, but some of the most common ones include:

  • Previous surgeries, such as laser refractive surgery or retinal detachment
  • Wearing contact lenses, especially after many years
  • Dry heat in our homes or air conditioning in the summer
  • Reading intently or staring at a computer
  • Various conditions, such as dementia, Bell’s palsy, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, or hyperthyroidism (Grave’s disease)

Dry Eye Symptoms

  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Feeling of sand or dirt in the eye
  • Tearing

Eye Tearing and Dry Eye

Surprisingly, many people with dry eyes complain of tearing. There are three types of tears:

  • Greasy
  • Mucousy
  • Watery

When our tear film is deficient in the greasy and mucousy tears, we compensate with the over population of watery tears.

Treatment Options for Dry Eye

Some of the more common treatments include:

  • Over the counter eye drops
  • An eye gel or ointment
  • Small plugs can be placed in the eyelids to increase the tear film

Talking to Your Doctor About Dry Eye

In most cases, dry eye can be managed with over the counter eye drops. However, you should consult your eye doctor when you can no longer tolerate the burning, redness, and pain.