What Causes Dry Eyes? Diagnosis and Treatment

Last Updated September 20, 2018

Dry Eye DiagnosisDid you know that dry eye symptoms are the most common reason why people head into their eye doctor’s office? It is so common that it is estimated more than 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from some form of dry eye disease and the discomfort associated with the irritation, grittiness, burning, and poor vision that comes with it. If you are fed up with your dry eye symptoms, it may be time to schedule your own visit to the eye doctor to find out what is causing your dry eyes and the treatment options available to provide relief.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Several diagnostic tests can be used to evaluate and help determine what may be causing your dry eyes. It begins with a thorough eye exam and an in-depth conversation with your eye doctor. This first step is often the most important and revealing. In addition to determining the overall health of your eye, the time spent in an eye exam should include a discussion about your experience with symptoms and a detailed overview of your general health.

Here we discuss what causes dry eyes, as well as contributing factors for dry eye syndromes. Only through a complete health history can an eye doctor get the information they need to help make an accurate diagnosis and a viable course of treatment. If you are going to take the time to go to the eye doctor, you want to make sure that time is as productive as possible. To help out, here are a few tips to help you prepare:

  1. Detail your dry eye symptoms. Is there a specific time of day, activity, or environment that bring on symptoms or increases their severity? Be as specific as you can about the sensations you experience.
  2. Put together a list of all of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that you take on a regular basis. Include any vitamins or supplements. It might be easier to simply take pictures of the containers with your phone, so your doctor can see the exact dosage and instructions.
  3. Be prepared to talk about your lifestyle, particularly any recent life changes (like a move or job change). Do you have any ongoing or seasonal medical conditions? Do you wear contacts? Do you smoke? Have you recently started mountain biking? Do you have a pet? Do you travel frequently on an airplane? You never know what might be contributing to your symptoms.

As part of the eye exam, one or several tests may be used to help evaluate your eyes and get to the bottom of what might be causing your dry eye symptoms. These may include:

Questions to Ask Your Eye Doctor

Once you and your doctor have enough diagnostic information, you will have a discussion about your specific situation. You might want to write down the questions you want to ask your eye doctor about what causes dry eyes. Not sure what to ask? Here are some basics to get you started:

There are several treatment options for dry eye, including medications, lubricating eye drops, holistic remedies, therapeutic treatments and procedures. We provide an overview of the various treatment options your eye doctor may recommend to you here.

Published September 20, 2018