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Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that occurs when your tears aren't able to provide adequate lubrication for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don't produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.

Everyone has itchy or irritated eyes once in a while, and you shouldn’t panic if your eyes occasionally feel a little gritty and inflamed. Conversely, if you develop severe, constant eye pain, call your eye doctor immediately to rule out a neurologic cause such as stroke, a corneal ulcer, a glaucoma attack, or some other serious problem.

Cases of dry eye usually begin with mild symptoms, and the first line of defense for most sufferers is over-the-counter eye- drops or artificial tears. These will treat the symptoms, but don’t necessarily alter the progress of the disease. If your eyes are annoyingly scratchy, irritated, and/or inflamed for more than a week or two, have an eye doctor check them.

Listed below are the key symptoms of dry eye syndrome. You may well have dry eye syndrome if you experience only one or two of them; in extreme cases, you may suffer from most or even all of them.

  • Eye pain, such as achy or sore eyes
  • Redness of the eyes, inflammation
  • Scratchy, grainy, gravelly feelings in the eyes
  • Sense of a ‘‘foreign body’’ in the eyes
  • Burning or stinging in the eyes
  • Constant or frequent itching of the eyes
  • Contact lens discomfort
  • Nighttime dryness
  • Difficulty opening your eyes in the morning because they feel glued shut
  • Frequent blurred or fluctuating vision
  • Heavy or tired eyes
  • Excessively watery eyes
  • Excessive mucus discharge from the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Treatments for dry eyes may make you more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eyedrops but not operations like laser eye surgery. You'll likely need to take these measures indefinitely to control the symptoms of dry eyes.