What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • Feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse during the day
  • Red eyes
  • Eyelids that stick together when you wake up
  • Temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink

More severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome include extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia), very red and painful eyes, and deterioration in your vision.

If you have any of these severe symptoms, this can be a sign of a serious complication. Contact your optometrist, ophthalmologist or hospital immediately for appropriate advice.

What causes dry eyes?

Dry eye syndrome can occur when your eyes stop making tears as they usually would. Tears are an important part of your eye health. They help to keep your eyes lubricated, protect against infections, and clear away debris from the surface of your eyes.

Dry eye syndrome develops when there is a disruption in the production of tears – either that they evaporate too quickly, an issue with drainage, or that not enough tears are produced. This can happen for many reasons, either one or a combination of:

  • Being in a hot or windy environment
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Certain underlying medical conditions
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Hormonal changes, such as during the menopause

What help is available?

Your optometrist may give you eye drops to lubricate your eyes or you could need medication to reduce inflammation. If necessary, a referral for surgery can prevent tears from draining away too easily.

If dry eye is caused by an underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. If necessary, the optometrist may refer you for further tests.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.