why do my eyes water, burn, or feel gritty all the time?

Do you find yourself always searching for the best eyedrops for dry eyes?  

Are your eyes watering often or do you find one eye watering more than the other?  

Does it feel as if something is in your eyes or or do you feel the the need to constantly blink your eyes?  

You may be suffering from dry eye disease.

What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease, also called dry eye syndrome or ocular surface disease, is a condition caused from a disruption in one of the three layers of natural tear production.  The eye produces an outer oily layer, a middle water layer, and an inner mucus layer.  Any change in one of these three layers can result in dry eyes.  Having dry eyes can make daily activities very difficult. The condition is often chronic and can worsen over time.  

Unfortunately, in some cases, over the counter eye drops only mask the symptoms and do little to remedy the situation. While chronic dry eye disease isn’t generally curable it can be successfully managed.

Dry eye disease may seem like a minor irritation that isn’t serious, however, the complications of not treating dry eye disease can be severe.  Damage to the eye’s surface caused by dry eyes can lead to corneal scarring and impaired vision. Additionally, dry eyes can make wearing contact lenses difficult because of increased irritation and risk of eye infection.  The doctors at Blountville Family Eyecare and The Appalachian Dry Eye Center care about your comfort.  We will listen to your concerns and develop a treatment plan tailored to your individual dry eye needs. 

What are the Causes of Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye disease is most common in older people with women being twice as likely to have dry eyes over men.  Additional factors contributing to dry eyes include computer use, medications such as antihistamines and decongestants, and environmental factors like smoking in the house or dryer  climates. Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome also contribute to the development of dry eyes.  

Dry Eye Disease Infographic- dry eye exams kingsport, tn
Infographic on DRy Eye at NEI

Causes of Dry Eye

  • Aging
  • Hormonal changes
  • Blinking problems
  • Certain Medications- Antihistamines, Oral Contraceptives, Decongestants   
  • Dry Climate and Wind exposure
  • Exposure to smoking
  • Certain health conditions- Sjogren’s Syndrome, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyroid Problems
  • Chemical or thermal burns of the eye
  • LASIK Surgery

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease?

Symptoms of dry eye disease vary, but generally include irritation, scratchiness, or grittiness in the eyes.   Complaints of watery eyes or just one eye watering,  irritated eyes, red eyes, burning eyes, or the sensation something in the eye are all common complaints of dry eye disease.  

Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

  • Watery eyes or excessive tearing
  • Irritated, scratchy, and gritty feeling
  • Redness of the eye
  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Burning and uncomfortable
  • Blurred vision

What Should You Do If You Think You Have Dry Eye Disease?

Some milder dry eye causes such as extended computer use or short term exposure to wind may be treated with over the counter eye drops known as artificial tears.  However, if you find the need to frequently use artificial tears or if the relief of dry eye symptoms is only partial or short term, you may need another treatment for your dry eyes. Options may include prescription eye drops, minor surgical procedures, nutritional supplements, and other treatments as prescribed.  To learn more about the specific treatment options visit here.  You can also call the doctors at Appalachian Dry Eye Center to set up a consult. 

If you suspect you have dry eyes, you should talk to your optometrist.  Make an appointment today to discuss your symptoms and receive a complete evaluation for dry eyes.  Why suffer another day?

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