Dry Eye Symptoms

Letzte Aktualisierung:
24. April 2024

a red eye with small lightning bolts

Dry eyes are a common and often frustrating condition that occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tear fluid or when the fluid evaporates too quickly.1,2 A variety of factors can contribute to the development of dry eyes, including lifestyle choices, environmental conditions, medications, and underlying health issues.

Lifestyle factors such as spending long hours in dry, air-conditioned environments, wearing contact lenses, and prolonged screen time can all promote the development of dry eyes.3,4,5 Additionally, certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapy, can cause dry eyes as a side effect.6 Physical conditions, including diabetes, hypothyroidism, and autoimmune diseases like Sjögren’s syndrome, can also trigger dry eyes.7,8,9

The Importance of the Tear Film

The tear film plays a crucial role in maintaining eye health and comfort. It keeps the ocular surface smooth, reduces friction from eyelid movements, and contains antibacterial substances that protect the eyes from infection. When the tear film is compromised, as in the case of dry eyes, the risk of inflammation and infection increases.

Dry eyes typically affect both eyes, although in some cases, depending on the underlying cause, only one eye may be affected.

Common Symptoms of Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can present with a wide range of symptoms, which may vary in severity from person to person.10 Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Burning and itching: These are often among the first signs of dry eyes, causing people to frequently rub their eyes.
  • Eye pain: Inflammation and irritation can increase the eye’s sensitivity to pain, affecting both the eyes and eyelids.
  • Redness: Dry eyes are often inflamed and irritated, leading to redness.
  • Foreign body sensation: A common symptom is the feeling of having a grain of sand or grit in the eye.
  • Pressure: Some people with dry eyes may experience a dull feeling of pressure in the eye.
  • Swollen eyelids: Inflammation can cause the eyelids to swell.
  • Eye fatigue: Eyes may tire quickly, especially when working in front of a screen for extended periods.
  • Light sensitivity: Inflammation and changes in the tear film composition can increase sensitivity to light and pain, making even normal light levels feel uncomfortable.11
  • Watery eyes: Paradoxically, people with dry eyes may experience watery eyes as the body tries to compensate for the dryness by increasing tear production.
  • Vision changes: Dry eyes can lead to blurred or otherwise impaired vision, often due to the excess watering.
  • Sticky eyelids upon waking: Secretions can accumulate on the eyelids and lashes during sleep, causing them to feel sticky in the morning.12

The Importance of Treating Dry Eyes

Dry eye symptoms are primarily caused by inflammatory responses, which, if left untreated, can damage the eye. It’s essential to address dry eyes, especially if symptoms persist. Artificial tears, such as eye drops, can provide quick symptom relief, while anti-inflammatory medications can help manage acute inflammation.13 In addition to treatment, it’s crucial to identify and minimize any external factors that may be contributing to dry eyes.

If you experience persistent or severe dry eye symptoms, consult an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation and personalized treatment plan. By addressing the underlying causes and managing symptoms, you can maintain healthy, comfortable eyes and prevent potential complications associated with chronic dry eyes.

One way to treat dry eye related to computer use (computer vision syndrome) is by using the Blinkr blink reminder app.


1. Lemp MA, Crews LA, Bron AJ, Foulks GN, Sullivan BD. Distribution of Aqueous-Deficient and Evaporative Dry Eye in a Clinic-Based Patient Cohort. Cornea. 2012;31(5):472-478. doi:10.1097/ICO.0b013e318225415a

2. Tong L, Chaurasia SS, Mehta JS, Beuerman RW. Screening for Meibomian Gland Disease: Its Relation to Dry Eye Subtypes and Symptoms in a Tertiary Referral Clinic in Singapore. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2010;51(7):3449. doi:10.1167/iovs.09-4445

3. Dry Eye. https://www.aoa.org/patients-and-public/eye-and-vision-problems/glossary-of-eye-and-vision-conditions/dry-eye. Accessed October 25, 2019.

4. Freudenthaler N, Neuf H, Kadner G, Schlote T. Characteristics of spontaneous eyeblink activity during video display terminal use in healthy volunteers. Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology. 2003;241(11):914-920. doi:10.1007/s00417-003-0786-6

5. Kojima T. Contact Lens-Associated Dry Eye Disease: Recent Advances Worldwide and in Japan. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2018;59(14):DES102. doi:10.1167/iovs.17-23685

6. Fraunfelder FT, Sciubba JJ, Mathers WD. The Role of Medications in Causing Dry Eye. Journal of Ophthalmology. 2012;2012:1-8. doi:10.1155/2012/285851

7. Zhang X, Zhao L, Deng S, Sun X, Wang N. Dry Eye Syndrome in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus: Prevalence, Etiology, and Clinical Characteristics. Journal of Ophthalmology. 2016;2016:1-7. doi:10.1155/2016/8201053

8. Akpek EK, Klimava A, Thorne JE, Martin D, Lekhanont K, Ostrovsky A. Evaluation of Patients With Dry Eye for Presence of Underlying Sjögren Syndrome. Cornea. 2009;28(5):493-497. doi:10.1097/ICO.0b013e31818d3846

9. Kan E, Kılıçkan E, Ecemiş G, Beyazyildiz E, Çolak R. Presence of Dry Eye in Patients with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Journal of Ophthalmology. 2014;2014:1-4. doi:10.1155/2014/754923

10. Dry eyes – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863. Accessed October 25, 2019.

11. Galor A, Levitt RC, Felix ER, Sarantopoulos CD. What can photophobia tell us about dry eye? Expert Review of Ophthalmology. 2016;11(5):321-324. doi:10.1080/17469899.2016.1222905

12. Dry Eyes at Night: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment. https://www.ergopax.com/en/articles/dry-eyes-night. Accessed April 13, 2023.

13. Pflugfelder SC, Maskin SL, Anderson B, et al. A randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled, multicenter comparison of loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension, 0.5%, and placebo for treatment of keratoconjunctivitis sicca in patients with delayed tear clearance. American Journal of Ophthalmology. 2004;138(3):444-457. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2004.04.052

About the Author

Gerrit Sonnabend

With a background in qualitative research and data science, Gerrit has extensively researched the causes of dry eyes. With Blinkr, he has developed an effective solution for dry eyes caused by computer screen work,