Itchy eyes can be very uncomfortable and frustrating, especially when you can’t seem to find relief. You may think it’s just allergies or a change in the weather, but it could be something else entirely: dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a common issue that affects millions of Americans every year1. It happens when your eyes can’t produce enough tears or produce tears of poor quality.
If you’re dealing with dry, itchy eyes, you may be wondering how to find relief. Keep reading to learn more about this condition, its symptoms, common causes, and ways to treat it.
What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, with itching being one of the most common. If you have dry eye, you may also notice symptoms like:
- Redness and irritation
- A gritty or sandy sensation, as if something is stuck in your eye
- Blurred vision or sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Eye fatigue or discomfort
- A burning, stinging sensation in the eyes
While it might sound strange, dry eye syndrome can also lead to watery eyes. This surprising symptom is called reflex tearing, and it happens when your eyes overproduce watery, poor-quality tears to try to compensate for dryness.
What are the main causes of dry eye syndrome?
Many different factors can contribute to dry eye, including certain medications, medical conditions like diabetes and arthritis, environmental factors such as wind and air conditioning, and spending too much time in front of screens. Aging is the most common cause of dry eye as our eyes produce fewer tears as we get older. Women are also more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, menopause, and taking birth control.
How to find relief from dry eye syndrome
Treatment for dry eye syndrome varies based on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. One of the most common treatments for dry eye is using artificial tears or lubricating eye drops. These eye drops help to moisturize and soothe your eyes, and they can be used as often as needed. Your eye doctor might also suggest other treatments like prescription eye drops or warm compresses.
In addition to medical treatments, there are also some lifestyle changes you can make to help relieve dry eye. These include taking frequent breaks from digital screens, using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated, and avoiding smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
Diagnosing dry eye can be tricky because many conditions can cause itchy eyes. If your eyes constantly feel dry or irritated, don’t worry! Our friendly optometrists in St. Charles and St. Louis are experts in diagnosing and treating dry eye. They can perform several tests during an eye exam to find the cause and provide treatment to relieve discomfort. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.