The short answer is yes. A feeling of burning and gritty eyes could be signs of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome, as defined by the International Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS), “is a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tears film instability, with potential damage to the ocular surface”. Quite the mouth full! The multifactorial nature of the disease is why conversations with your optometrist are crucial. If you walk down the “eye drop” aisle at any drugstore, you will see many eye drops that advertise “dry eye relief”. The problem is, however, that depending on your symptoms, the drops could have no effect. Your optometrist is the one who can help direct you to treatments that can bring relief to your symptoms, even eliminating them. If these symptoms are not brought under control, there can be serious consequences, including loss of vision, constant irritation, and pain.
There are two main categories of dry eye:
- Aqueous deficient: Your body is not producing enough tears to lubricate the surface of your eye
- Meibomian gland dysfunction: The meibomian glands, glands in your eyelids that produce the lipid component of your tears, are not working properly, which do not allow the tears to stay on your eye.
Your optometrist is your best source for dry eye relief. Through a thorough eye exam, they will be able to find the best treatment plan to help relieve your symptoms and allow you to live a life free of burning and gritty eyes. What are you waiting for? Make an appointment today!
Dr. Jenna Zigler