Is Dry Eye Painful?

Dry eye occurs when the quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. This condition is common, affecting millions of adults in the United States. The risk of developing dry eye increases with advancing age. Women have a higher prevalence of dry eye compared with men.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Dry eye causes a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in the eye. Other symptoms include stinging or burning, episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of dryness, discharge, pain and redness in the eye. People with dry eye may also feel as if their eyelids are heavy and may experience blurred vision.

Although other signs and sensations are more common, eye pain IS certainly a symptom of dry eye. The discomfort from dry eye can take the form of infrequent sharp pains in the eye or a more constant stinging, grittiness or dull ache.

What Causes Dry Eye Pain?

The cornea of the eye has a greater density of nerves and receptors than nearly all other body tissues. In fact, the density of nerve endings in the central cornea is estimated to be about 7,000 per square millimeter.

This high density of nerve endings and receptors is why the cornea is so sensitive to surface damage, including that caused by dry eye. It also explains why even a minor corneal abrasion can be very painful.

Eye pain is not something you should have to suffer with. If you experience sudden or recurring eye discomfort, contact Medical Eye Center to schedule a comprehensive eye exam. During your exam, your doctor will be able to determine if the cause of your discomfort is related to dry eyes and will determine the appropriate treatment to get your eyes comfortable again. Contact us today by calling 541-479-4711 or visiting

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