Harvard Men's Health Watch

What causes dry eyes?

Q. I have recently noticed that my eyes are frequently dry. I have used saline eye drops, but they don't seem to help much. Is this normal?

A. Dry eyes is a common condition that affects about 10% of men. Typical symptoms include burning, redness, and the sensation that you have something stuck in your eye. Paradoxically, excessive tearing is another common symptom of dry eyes.

One common cause of dry eyes is lower production of tears from the lacrimal glands under the eyelids; another is decreased secretion of an oily substance from the meibomian glands that slows the evaporation of tears. Dry eyes can be a symptom of more serious medical conditions, such as Sjögren's syndrome, but this is usually not the case.

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