Dry Eyes

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    Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tears. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies.

    Alternative Names

    Tearing - decreased; Eyes - dry


    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.

    Common Causes

    Common causes of dry eyes include:

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    • Aging
    • Dry environment or workplace (wind, air conditioning)
    • Sun exposure
    • Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
    • Cold or allergy medicines
    • An eye injury or other problem with your eyes or eyelids (like a drooping eyelid or bulging eyes)
    • Sjogren's syndrome -- includes dry eyes, mouth, and mucus membranes, and often rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disorder
    • Previous eye surgery




    Review Date: 10/31/2009
    Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


    A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)

Published On: November 19, 2012