Dry Eye FAQs

Ask Our Chapel Hill Optometry and Ophthalmology Team

About Dry Eyes

Dry eyes can be extremely bothersome. At Chapel Hill Ophthalmology, our team of eye doctors is happy to answer frequently asked questions about this common eye health issue. We invite you to call us to learn about how we can help, and keep reading to see our dry eye FAQs.


What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when a person's body doesn't produce the right type or number of tears necessary to keep his or her eyes adequately nourished.

Normally, a thin film of tears covers the outer edge of your eyes. This tear film is replenished with every blink. People with dry eye syndrome, have an insufficiency in regards to their tear production, which causes their eyes to become dry, inflamed, and irritated.

What Causes Dry Eye?

Chronic dry eye syndrome, also called keratoconjunctivitis sicca, occurs when the quality of a person's tears is inadequate and fails to moisturize and protect the eyes. Dry eye can be caused by other issues as well, including:

  • Prolonged use of contact lenses
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction (these glands normally secrete oil into the tears, which prevents tears from evaporating too quickly)
  • Eye allergies
  • Other underlying health problems, including diabetes and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and lupus
  • Environmental exposure to smoke, pollution, dust, pollen, mold, and other substances

You may be more at risk for dry eye syndrome if you are over the age of 65 or female (because of hormonal changes associated with menopause and pregnancy), if you take certain medications, or if you have had LASIK eye surgery.

How Can I Tell if I Have Dry Eye Syndrome?

Symptoms of dry eye include painful, itchy, burning, and/or gritty sensation in the eyes, eye redness, watery discharge that can dry out and leave crusty residue on the eyelashes, and hypersensitivity to glare and bright lights. Rubbing dry eyes, may damage the corneas or cause an infection. In severe cases of dry eye, a person's vision can become impaired. 

How Does an Eye Doctor Diagnose and Treat Dry Eye?

Treating dry eye well requires a proper diagnosis, which our Chapel Hill eye doctor team can provide alongside a combination of procedures, testing, and medical history assessment. Common dry eye treatment includes medications to add or conserve tears and soothe inflammation, as well as lifestyle guidance and prescription eyewear modifications (e.g., switching from contact lenses to eyeglasses or hard-to-fit contacts).

Are You Concerned About Dry Eye Symptoms?  

Call Chapel Hill Ophthalmology at 919-942-8701 to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist near you!


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