Dry eyes are caused by underproduction of tears and/or a change in the tear content. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies. They contain important proteins and oils that calm inflammation, combat infection and minimize evaporation. The Meibomian glands can be clogged leading to worsening symptoms of tearing, irritation and redness (meibomitis). Dandruff can form at the base of the eyelashes (blepharitis).
If you have dry eyes, you will feel a burning, scratching, or stinging sensation. You may also have strained or tired eyes after reading, even for short periods of time. If you wear contacts, they will likely feel uncomfortable. Having dry eyes for a while can lead to tiny abrasions on the surface of your eyes. Seasonal allergies, autoimmune disease like thyroid eye disease, some medications and other medical problems like sleep apnea can make your symptoms worse. Now there are new treatment options beyond eye drops alone. Intense pulsed light on the skin around the eyes is an exciting new therapy.