When our eyes burn, itch or hurt, it can affect our entire well-being. Dry eye, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), can be an issue for many people. The condition also is known as dysfunctional tear syndrome, evaporative tear deficiency and LASIK-induced neurotrophic epitheliopathy (LNE). Dry eye may be a chronic or temporary condition.
Basic symptoms. The National Eye Institute lists several basic symptoms you may experience with dry eye. It is important to note that you may experience some but not all of these symptoms. Symptoms may appear in combination as well.
- Stinging, burning, pain and redness of the eye
- Blurred vision and eye fatigue, especially after periods of working on a computer or reading
- Heavy eyelids
- Stringy discharge/mucus from the eye
- A gritty or sandy feeling, similar to the feeling when an eyelash is stuck in your eye
Additional symptoms. When you are suffering from dry eye, you may find your eyes are more sensitive to light than usual. If you wear contact lenses, it may become difficult and uncomfortable. On occasion, dry eye will cause your eyes to produce more tears than normal, to the point where the tears are streaming down your cheeks. This is your eyes sending a warning to your nervous system that your eyes are not getting enough moisture. Dry eye may also inhibit your ability to cry when needed.
Inflammation: a dangerous symptom. In some people, the eyes’ surfaces can become inflamed. If the inflammation is not treated, you may experience pain, ulcers or scars on the cornea, as well as some loss of vision, according to the National Eye Institute. The Mayo Clinic states that other complications may include eye infections and potential scarring on your cornea.
If you are concerned you have dry eye, you can check your symptoms with the Mayo Clinic’s online Symptom Checker and then consult your trusted health care provider.