What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi   by Tatheer Zehra Zaidi, M. Pharma    Last updated on April 19, 2021,

symptoms of dry eye


When you have dry eyes, you feel very uncomfortable. It causes irritation and you may have difficulty in performing certain activities.

Your eyes do not produce or retain enough quality tears. As a result, your eyes cannot remove dust and other irritating particles. This can lead to various symptoms in your eyes.

Dry Eye Symptoms

Most common signs of dry eyes that may appear are:

  • Stinging or scratchy sensation in the eyes
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Redness
  • Pain: People who have dry eye syndrome (DES) can experience mild to severe pain. You can feel it on the surface of the eyeball or the eyelids or in the scalp.

Other signs and symptoms of dry eyes are:

  • Stringy mucus in and around the eyes: A mucus discharge that can happen any time during the day. It is most common when you wake up. A feeling that the eyelids are stuck together is experienced.
  • Watery eyes, which is your body's response to the irritation caused due to dry eyes
  • Eye fatigue: your eyes get tired early of reading and writing or while sitting at the computer than they used to be earlier when you had no dry eyes.
  • Feeling of having sand in your eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty in wearing contact lenses: causes pain or irritation when you wear them.
  • Difficulty with driving during night
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Aching sensations
  • Sore eyes
  • Heaviness in eyes
  • Dryness sensation
  • Reduced ability to focus: This happens particularly when the visual attention is prolonged.
  • Inability to cry with tears

A common symptom is if some foreign body is there in the eyes. The feeling that some particles are there in the eye can cause irritation.

Sometimes, dryness on the eye's surface can over-stimulate the production of tears as a protective mechanism. This may cause your eyes watery. But this reflex tearing does not stay long enough to correct the underlying dry eye condition. You will ultimately require a treatment such as an artificial lubrication. Read about treatment of dry eyes.

Though not so common but, In addition to these symptoms, dry eyes can cause inflammation and cause permanent damage to the surface of the eye. Though, the permanent damage is rare.

Dry eye syndrome can also affect the outcomes of refractive eye surgeries.

Most people experience only mild symptoms. They usually come and go. However, the symptoms can become more severe and can include dangerous signs such as photophobia and vision damage etc. DES is a chronic eye condition. The symptoms usually tend to get worse over time.

When should you see a doctor?

If any of the above signs and symptoms remains for a long time, you should contact your doctor, particularly if the most common signs are there. Tour doctor will do a medical examination and if necessary perform some diagnostic tests to identify what is bothering you. Read about diagnosis and testing of dry eyes.

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi

Tatheer Zehra Zaidi is a clinical pharmacist and pharmacologist with a master’s degree in pharmacy practice. She aims to deliver a positive contribution in the field of healthcare and research. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Jamia Hamdard New Delhi and then joined Spirant Communication Private LTD as a Medical content writer.


Currently she is working at Maxinov Solutions Private LTD as a research associate and is associated with DiseaseFix as a medical content writer. Tatheer’s areas of interest include clinical research, clinical trial disclosure, and pharmacovigilance.

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