It’s normal for your eyes to feel slightly irritated occasionally due to external factors, like seasonal allergies or dry weather. Dry eyes are prevalent, and your eyes can feel more dry than usual for various reasons.

But you may not know if your eyes are dry unless you know the most common symptoms of dry eyes. Keep reading for 5 dry eye symptoms you need to know!

What are Dry Eyes?

Before discussing the main symptoms of dry eyes, it’s essential to talk about what they are and what causes them.

There are many reasons for dry eyes. However, they’re usually caused by an issue with tear production or tear dispersal over the eye’s surface.

Environmental factors can often affect the latter, as dry, windy weather or a dry environment inside your home or office can cause your tears to evaporate too quickly. Other temporary factors can cause dry eyes, like dehydration and improper contact lens use.

But dry eyes can also be caused by a chronic condition called dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome is a common condition, especially in older individuals and women, especially those going through menopause.

Dry eye syndrome is also linked to inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, but anyone can develop it. The eye condition does more than cause discomfort.

It can also lead to severe visual problems, so it’s vital to have it diagnosed and treated. However, before you can have any eye condition treated, you need to receive a diagnosis.

The best way to understand if you have an eye condition like dry eye syndrome is to know the symptoms that accompany it. Remember that these are symptoms of both temporary dry eye and dry eye syndrome.

Only your ophthalmologist can diagnose you with dry eye syndrome. However, it helps to recognize the symptoms of dry eyes as something you can discuss with your eye doctor if you’re experiencing them.

1.    Burning and Stinging Sensations

One of the primary symptoms of dry eyes is inflammation. Inflammation around the eyes and eyelids, in particular, can lead to dry eyes.

Dry eyes tend to cause more inflammation, leading to an uncomfortable cycle. Inflammation makes your eyes appear red and can cause a burning or stinging sensation.

If your eyes are inflamed, you may also feel some itchiness. But unlike conjunctivitis, which is often caused by exposure to allergens, itchiness is not as significant a symptom as stinging and burning.

When you have eye allergies, your eyes primarily feel itchy. When they are too dry, they feel like they are burning or stinging.

2.    Light Sensitivity

A healthy tear film protects your eyes by keeping them lubricated. When you lack a healthy tear film, your eyes are more sensitive as they lack protection.

Not having this necessary protection from the tear film can make your eyes more sensitive to light, especially bright light and sunlight. Light sensitivity can be a symptom of several eye conditions.

However, if you also exhibit several other dry eye symptoms with increased light sensitivity, it could be a sign that you have dry eyes. If you suspect you have dry eyes due to this symptom, you should see your eye doctor, as light sensitivity is often part of other eye conditions.

If you do have dry eyes, your ophthalmologist can develop an appropriate treatment plan.

3.    Tearing and Mucus Secretion

It may sound like a paradox, but having dry eyes causes your eyes to tear more. Tearing and watering more occurs because these are reflexive tears.

They are not the tears that make up the tear film coating the surface of your eye. When you lack a healthy tear film, your eyes compensate by releasing reflexive tears.

Reflexive tears often cannot adequately relieve dry eye symptoms because the tears have the same composition as your tear film. If your tear film does not have the proper components, it won’t work as it should.

It may be because of an issue with tear production, which could mean that your tears contain too much mucus and not enough water. Your tears have a balance of mucus, water, and oil.

When that balance is off, your tear quality suffers. Having a tear balance that is not balanced correctly often causes your eyes to secrete mucus and reflexive tears when you have dry eyes.

4.    Feeling of Grit in the Eye

When you have dry eyes, you may feel like you have something in your eyes or feel like your eyes are gritty. It feels like the sensation you get when you have an eyelash in your eye, but it happens when there’s nothing in your eyes.

This sensation occurs not because of any grit in your eye but because your eyes are much more sensitive without an adequate tear film. Even air can make it feel like there’s something in your eye if you have dry eyes.

5.    Blurry Vision

Blurry vision can be a symptom of many eye conditions, but it occurs alongside the other symptoms listed above if you have dry eyes. Your vision may be blurry when you have dry eyes because you have trouble seeing through reflexive tears and mucus around your eyes.

However, blurry vision is typically caused by damage to the cornea. Your cornea is more likely to have abrasions when you have dry eyes.

These abrasions can become infected and can cause severe visual problems due to corneal scarring. This vision loss can be permanent, making it crucial to receive dry eye treatment as soon as possible to avoid corneal scarring.

When to Get Dry Eye Treatment

If you exhibit these symptoms and they don’t go away within a few days, you should see your eye doctor. After an eye exam and discussion of your symptoms, they may diagnose you with dry eye syndrome.

Whether or not they do, they may recommend starting at-home remedies, like nutritional supplements, warm compresses over the eyes, using a humidifier, and other simple lifestyle changes. For some patients, making small lifestyle changes can be enough to improve symptoms and find the relief they are looking for.

However, it’s good to receive a diagnosis if you have dry eye syndrome, especially if you require prescription medication and in-office procedures when necessary to treat your symptoms. Do you have dry eyes?

Schedule an appointment at Dell Laser Consultants in Austin, TX, today to get the relief you need for your dry eyes! Isn’t it time to help your eyes feel better?