Dry eyes can cause a wide range of symptoms, including burning, irritation, itching, foreign body sensations, redness, light sensitivity, and eye pain. The severity of these symptoms can vary depending on the individual case and the underlying cause of the dry eyes. The front surface of the eye, called the cornea, is particularly sensitive and contains many nerve endings. When the cornea becomes dry and unstable due to a lack of lubrication, it can lead to eye pain and discomfort.

Different components of dry eyes

There are two types of dry eyes, aqueous and evaporative.

  • Aqueous dry eye - With aqueous dry eye, there are not enough tears being produced. When your eyes are not properly lubricated, and when you blink or wear contact lenses, it can scratch the cornea and cause you to have eye pain, sometimes even intense eye pain.
  • Evaporative dry eye - Having evaporative dry eyes means you are producing enough tears, but not enough of the lipid or oil layer, which is the outermost layer of our tears to prevent the aqueous part of the tears from evaporating, resulting in your eyes becoming dry. In that case, the evaporative component and also the aqueous component can re-stimulate an inflammatory cycle. Once this inflammatory cycle begins, a whole host of inflammatory cells are released onto your ocular surface. This causes further damage to the front surface of your eyes, resulting in pain and sensitivity to light.

Take our dry eye assessment to see if your symptoms indicate that you are suffering from treatable dry eye disease.

Why should you visit an eye doctor if you have eye pain due to dry eye?

Visiting your eye doctor if you have eye pain due to dry eye is important for several reasons. Your eye doctor can diagnose the underlying cause of dry eye and provide appropriate treatment, which may include the use of artificial tears, anti-inflammatory eye drops, medications such as Xiidra or Restasis, punctal plugs, in office heating and expression of the meibomian glands to release clogged oil glands, amniotic membranes to induce healing of the corneal surface, and scleral lenses. They can also help you to manage the dry eye by making lifestyle recommendations such as increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, using a humidifier, increasing your blinking while using a computer or phone, using hot compresses, practicing proper eyelid hygiene, avoiding medications that may induce dry eye, and avoiding environmental irritants.

Additionally, your eye doctor can check for other eye conditions that may be contributing to the dry eye or causing the pain. For example, conditions such as blepharitis, which is an inflammation of the eyelids, can cause dry eyes and eye pain. Your eye doctor can diagnose and treat these conditions in order to alleviate the dry eyes and pain. Furthermore, dry eye can cause damage to the cornea, conjunctiva, meibomian glands, and other parts of the eye. Your eye doctor can monitor the situation and to prevent further damage or vision loss.

Overall, visiting your eye doctor if you have eye pain due to dry eye is essential for managing the condition and preventing any potential complications. They can provide the right diagnosis and treatment to bring relief to your symptoms and prevent further damage to your eyes.

If you are experiencing eye pain, it is important to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. If you don’t live near an Amplify optometrist, you might begin your search online by entering “dry eye doctor near me” or “dry eye evaluation near me”

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