7 Myths About Chronic Dry Eye

  • women wrapped in towels looking at eyes in bathroom mirror
    Many people live with chronic dry eye.
    While it’s hard to know just how many people are affected by dry eye, researchers estimate chronic, or long-term, dry eye affects millions of Americans. People with chronic dry eye experience symptoms like pain, redness, or discharge from one or both eyes. Left untreated, chronic dry eye can lower your quality of life and interfere with your ability to see clearly. Cutting through common dry eye myths is the first step in finding treatment that manages your symptoms.

  • student reading in class
    Myth #1: Everyone gets dry eyes.
    Tears keep your eyes moist and healthy. Dry eye occurs when you don’t have enough tears, either because you don’t produce enough or your tears evaporate from your eyes too quickly. While it’s true  all people occasionally experience dry eyes, chronic dry eye affects people over a long period of time and can be difficult to manage. For many people, dealing with chronic dry eye means long-term treatment including medications and certain lifestyle changes.

  • Woman inserting contacts
    Myth #2: Chronic dry eye is caused by exposure to dry air.
    Living or working in climates where humidity is low can cause dry eye, but chronic dry eye is usually related to a combination of factors. Certain medications, like some blood pressure drugs or antidepressants, can cause dry eye symptoms. Using contact lenses long-term can increase your risk for developing chronic dry eye. And older people and those living with certain medical conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid problems, and diabetes are also more likely to suffer from chronic dry eye.

  • young caucasian woman in exercise clothes wearing earbuds out for a jog and rubbing eyes
    Myth #3: Watery eyes can’t be dry.
    It sounds counterintuitive, but watery eyes are actually a symptom of chronic dry eye. When your eyes are very dry, they may itch, burn, or be generally uncomfortable. In response, your body produces extra tears to try to re-moisten your eyes. But this excess amount of tears can overwhelm your body’s ability to drain tears away from your eyes, causing them to water. Dealing with chronic dry eye can lessen many symptoms, including watery eyes.

  • portrait of serious woman looking into camera
    Myth #4: Chronic dry eye is only a symptom of another problem.
    It’s true that chronic dry eye can be a symptom of a larger issue, but the condition is a medical problem in and of itself. Your eyes shouldn’t be dry most or all of the time and. If they are, it’s important to treat the condition to prevent further complications and preserve your eye health. Talking with your doctor is the first step in finding the cause of chronic dry eye and developing an effective treatment plan.

  • drop falling from eyedropper
    Myth #5: Any type of eye drop helps chronic dry eye.
    In many cases, doctors prescribe eye drops to help manage the symptoms of chronic dry eye, like itching or burning. But not all eye drops are alike. Some types of artificial tear solutions and drops to remove eye redness contain certain additives which can actually increase dryness and make symptoms worse. Before using eye drops to treat dry eye, ask your doctor if the drops you plan to use are the best to treat your condition.

  • young frustrated caucasian woman sitting a wheel of car
    Myth #6: Chronic dry eye isn’t a serious medical condition.
    Left untreated, chronic dry eye can cause lasting damage to your eyes that interferes with your ability to see properly. Long-term dry eye may cause symptoms like sensitivity to light, difficulty driving at night, blurred vision, and eye fatigue. Also, chronic dry eye increases your risk for eye infections and damage to your cornea, the surface of your eye. Treating chronic dry eye quickly helps you avoid any issues that may cause eye or vision problems later.

  • confident senior woman in forest wearing jacket while hiking
    Myth #7: You just have to live with chronic dry eye.
    Many people think long-term dry eye is just something they have to live with, but that’s not true. Depending on the underlying cause of dry eye, your doctor can recommend several treatments for your condition. Your treatment plan may be as simple as changing a medication you take or reducing your amount of screen time. Your doctor may also prescribe medicated eye drops to restore the tear balance of your eyes.

Dry Eye Myths | Chronic Dry Eye

About The Author

Sarah Handzel began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jan 10
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