Dry eyes

Dry eyes occur when your tears aren't able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don't produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.

Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.

Treatments for dry eyes may make you more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eyedrops. For more-serious cases of dry eyes, surgery may be an option.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, may include:

  • A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Eye fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Periods of excessive tearing
  • Blurred vision, often worsening at the end of the day or after focusing for a prolonged period

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you've had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes. Your doctor can take steps to determine what's bothering your eyes or refer you to a specialist.

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