Occasionally, your eyes may feel dry and itchy due to allergies, a seasonal cold, a slightly scratched contact lens, or other irritants. But for people with dry eye disease, those unpleasant symptoms aren't problems that come and go—they're often a permanent part of life.
Dry eye disease or dry eye syndrome is more than just the occasional itchy eyeball. Rather, it is a serious ocular disease that occurs when your eyes fail to make enough tears or don't generate the correct type of tears to keep the eye adequately lubricated.
Since your eyes can become irritated by a myriad of things, the best way to get an accurate diagnosis is to visit your eye doctor for a professional examination. However, there are several common signs of dry eye disease that can let you know it's time to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. They include:
1. Decreased Tear Production and Difficulty Blinking
Dry eyes can occur when your eyes are unable to produce enough aqueous humor, the transparent fluid that lubricates the eye. A lack of lubrication means that your eyelids lack a smooth surface to move across, which can make it harder to blink your eyes.
2. Blurry Vision
Dry eye is often associated with blurry vision, especially the type that comes and goes. Your vision may clear in the morning after a long night of sleep. However, when dryness sets in during the day, you'll experience foggy vision. A dry eye also causes issues with the tear film that covers the surface of the eye, impacting its ability to cover and protect the cornea.
3. Red Eyes
Swollen blood vessels on the white, outer layer of your eyeball can give your eyes a crimson color or make them appear bloodshot. If you don't have any allergies or an eye infection, it's a good bet your red eyes are caused by severe dryness. When the tiny oil glands lining your eyelids fail to produce or release sufficient lubrication, it can cause dryness, itchiness, and redness.
4. Excessive Tearing
Increased tear production can occur when your eyes respond to an irritant, such as improper lubrication. When your cornea senses inadequate tears because of dry eye, it signals your tear glands to increase production to attempt to flush out the material causing the irritation.
More often, patients who complain of excessive tearing suffer from evaporative dry eye syndrome. If your eye's oil layer is insufficient, the tear layer may evaporate quickly, causing irritation and excessive tearing.
5. Eye Heaviness or Fatigue
Dry eye disease may trigger the feeling of tired or fatigued eyes. Insufficient tear film may cause your eyelids to droop a little bit in an effort to protect the eye surface. The heaviness may also be attributed to meibomian gland dysfunction. This condition happens when oil-secreting glands in your eyelids fail to produce sufficient oil to keep the tear film moist. Another cause is when the glands themselves may become clogged and crusted.
Dry Eye Prevention
If you experience these symptoms of dry eye syndrome, it is important to visit an ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Without proper eye lubrication, the act of blinking can cause your eyelids to rub against the cornea, irritating it and causing discomfort. Our doctors at Global LASIK & Cataract Institute in Pasadena can address the underlying cause of your dry eyes and create a treatment plan to give you the relief you're looking for. Contact us today to schedule your consultation!