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I believe I have a condition called ‘dry eye’. My eyes are constantly irritated and I feel as if something were inside. When I try to take a closer look I can’t find anything. Yet, it’s very unpleasant - constant itching, burning, excessive redness are the usual symptoms I experience, but sometimes, when I spend too much time in front of the computer, it really hurts and I simply can’t see things clearly, they become blurry and I just can’t stand all that blinking. Are these the symptoms of a condition called ‘dry eye’ and how serious can it be?

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If you have been experiencing all those symptoms you listed for a longer period of time, then you are most probably right. You have a dry eye syndrome which is actually a problem with normal tear production in your eyes. Tears are very important for your eyes’ health - their job is to act as lubricants, clean the eyes and remove any foreign particles found inside. Tears are created whenever we blink in special glands that are placed near the eyes and they are made of three different layers - the outer is in charge of reducing the degree of evaporation of tears, the middle removes any substance which doesn’t belong there and the inner layer actually sticks this tear - film to the part of the eye called cornea. The usual reason for lessening of the quantity of tears produced is ageing, but other reasons are possible too, e.g. menopause or pregnancy, wearing contact lenses (increased evaporation of tears caused by lenses may initiate infection and pain in your eye), smoke and polluted air, fans and air conditioners etc. Together with your symptoms (which are typical of this condition) sometimes excess tearing occurs (although it may sound illogical) and it is caused by eye irritation provoked by the lack of the protective film. You must be aware that, although it can’t cause blindness, dry eye syndrome can drastically lessen your capabilities, especially those concerning visual activities (reading, driving...) and reduce your working abilities because it creates constant discomfort. So, you should visit your ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
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