Causes & Symptoms

Symptoms related to dry eye syndrome include:

  • Stinging or burning

  • Eye irritation or scratchiness

  • Excess tearing and watering

  • Redness

  • Eye and eyelid pain and/or tenderness

  • Swelling

  • Itching

  • Stringy mucus in or around the eyes (or the dried remains in the morning)

  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

  • Decreased or fluctuating vision that changes with blinking

The symptoms above do not confirm  you have dry eye.  However, if you experience any number of these symptoms, please contact Spokane Eye Clinic to set up a full evaluation by our dry eye specialist, Dr. Gilles.


There are two main causes of dry eye syndrome. First, we have structural changes that occur to the tear film of the eye. Secondly, various causes of inflammation can result in direct damage to the eye or to the structures that create the tear film. 


In order to have comfortable eyes, we need to have a high quality tear film to lubricate the surface of the eye.  A high quality tear film includes the aqueous, oil, and mucus layers (see "What is Dry Eye" for more details).  Disruption of any of these layers causes discomfort to the eye.  At times, when this irritation occurs, your eyes will tear excessively in an attempt to lubricate them.  This is why some patients experience watering from their dry eye syndrome.


When the body is responding to an acute, short-term infection, inflammation can be helpful to fight against the invasion.  However, causes of  chronic, long-term inflammation eventually leads the body to start attacking nearby healthy tissue.  Examples of these types of long-term inflammation causes are:

  • Autoimmune disorders

  • Environmental allergens

  • Hormonal changes

  • An overgrowth of the natural bacteria that live within our eyelashes and eyebrows

  • Diet, skin products, and cosmetics

Treating inflammation is a delicate and complicated process.  In most cases, it involves a properly balanced plan to address both the inflammation and any structural changes that may also be present. Follow closely your personalized home therapy plan prescribed by your eye doctor for best results.