Symptoms and Causes of Dry Eye

Itching, Burning, Redness...

For decades, a tenuous physician-patient relationship left patients feeling frustrated as doctors struggled to treat their dry eye symptoms. Often, eye drops were prescribed to alleviate eye discomfort, while underlying conditions were left unaddressed, forcing the patient to return for treatment time and again.

Addressing the Cause

Dry eye syndrome can have a major impact in the quality of life of those who suffer from it. Our physicians address the causes of your eye irritation using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, recommending a course of treatment to correct the problem and reduce your symptoms. Individually-tailored treatment plans will help you find relief from painful, blurry vision, without harming the balance of lipid and aqueous concentrations in your tears.


Dry eye syndrome is a subset of Ocular Surface Disease (OSD) which also encompasses meibomian gland dysfunction and blepharitis, or inflammation of your eyelids. The itchy, scratchy sensation associated with dry eye is more than just a sensation. The corneas of your eyes are being damaged, often resulting in permanent vision loss.

Symptoms include:

- Blurry/Fluctuating Vision
- Itching and/or Burning
- Tearing and Redness
- Inability to Wear Contacts
- Eye Fatigue
- "Gritty" Sensation

What Causes Dry Eye?

Your tears are comprised of three components: water, mucin and oil (called a lipid layer). When an inadequate amount of oil is present in the tears, they evaporate too quickly and do not lubricate the eye. This condition is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and accounts for approximately 90% of all dry eye cases.

This picture shows a healthy eye with proper meibomian gland function. The apparent "oil slick" shadow in the upper left portion of the iris is the lipid layer. Without these oils, tears evaporate too quickly resulting in irritation and abrasion. Our diagnostic equipment can easily determine if you have an adequate lipid layer.

According to the American Optometric Association, dry eye can develop from a wide range of factors. Dry eye tends to occur more frequently in women rather than men, but the exact reason for this largely depends on the individual case.Dry Eye Syndrome is a multi-factor disease. Conditions linked to dry eye can include:

- Auto-immune disorders such as Sjogren's Syndrome or Lupus
- Diabetes
- Thyroid Disease                          
- LASIK and other ocular surgeries                                 
- Windy or smoke-filled environments
- Hormonal Changes or Menopause

Various medications can also deplete tear and oil production:  

- Antihistamines
- Oral contraceptives                          
- Diuretics
- Anti-Depressants
- Decongestants

To learn more about how we can help you with your itchy, scratchy eyes and to schedule an appointment, click one of the links below. Give us a call today at any of our five locations or schedule a dry eye appointment online through the NextMD patient portal

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