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Dry Eye

Your body keeps your eyes moist, healthy and comfortable by producing tears. If you do not produce enough tears, or if there are problems with the quality of your tears, you will experience dry eye.

Tears come from the lacrimal glands and include several important components, including water, mucus and an oily substance. You might experience dry eye if your lacrimal glands do not produce enough tears or if their proportions are out of balance. For example, if your tears contain too little of the oily component, they evaporate too quickly.

Symptoms of dry eye include itching, redness and sensitivity to light. This condition can make performing some activities, such as reading or working at a computer, difficult. Untreated dry eye can cause the eye’s surface to become inflamed, resulting in pain, ulcers and scars. However, permanent vision loss is rare.

Irritation caused by dry eye sometimes triggers overproduction of tears. This moisture is not very helpful because it overwhelms the eye’s drainage system and flows away.

Dry eye often occurs with age as tear production slows down, especially in women. Contact lenses can also be a factor. Other causes include:

  • Cold and allergy medicines
  • Dry environments
  • Disorders of the glands in the eyelids
  • Hormone replacement therapy in women
  • Immune disorders, such as Sjögren’s syndrome
  • Burns from chemicals or heat
  • Eyelids failing to close during sleep

Dry eye generally does not lead to serious vision problems, but it can interfere with your ability to live a productive and enjoyable life. We provide treatment to relieve dry eye symptoms and address any underlying causes. At Indiana University Health, our goal is for you to be able to carry out your daily activities without eye discomfort.

You might be able to control dry eye through measures such as using over-the-counter drops and gels, wearing close-fitting glasses or sunglasses and avoiding tobacco smoke. Keeping away from wind and dry air can also help. For tougher cases, our ophthalmologists offer a variety of options for managing dry eye, depending on your specific needs and preferences.

We diagnose your condition with a thorough examination and, if necessary, tests of tear production and dryness patterns. We then work with you to develop a patient- and family-centered treatment plan that accounts for your symptoms, needs and lifestyle. If your dry eyes are the result of another condition, we address the problem or connect you with another specialist through the referral network of IU Health.

You can count on our ophthalmologists to provide the most advanced care for your eye condition. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Eye Institute at the Indiana University School of Medicine brings together an international team of world-class researchers in the fields of eye and vision research. We work every day to apply the latest discoveries in our field to your eye care.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Dry Eye Treatment Information

We use several approaches to treat dry eyes, depending on your specific needs. Options include:

Dry Eye Locations & Physicians

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Find a Specialist

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Dry Eye Support Services

Learn more about dry eye at these websites: