Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tears. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies.
If you have dry eyes, you will feel a burning, scratching, or stinging sensation. You may also have strained or tired eyes after reading, even for short periods of time. If you wear contacts, they will likely feel uncomfortable. Having dry eyes for a while can lead to tiny abrasions on the surface of your eyes.
Common causes of dry eyes include:
Try artificial tears, available as either drops or ointment. Ointments last longer, but are thicker and can cause blurry vision for a short while after you place them in the eye.
Call your health care provider if:
Your health care provider will take a medical history and perform a physical examination, including a careful eye examination.
To help better understand your dry eyes, your health care provider may ask the following:
Your health care provider may perform tearing tests that can help diagnose dry eyes. Artificial tears may be prescribed.
Tearing - decreased; Eyes - dry
Tu EY, Rheinstrom S. Dry eye. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier;2008:chap 4.
Carsons S. Sjögren's syndrome. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr., et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 69.
Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.
Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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