How this condition progresses is different from person to person and can range from mild discomfort to vision loss.

You need tears to keep your eyes healthy and lubricated. Dry eye is when your eyes don’t make enough tears, or the tears you do make don’t work well enough.

As you get older, your eyes naturally make fewer tears. Hormone changes during pregnancy and menopause can also reduce tear production. Other possible causes of dry eye include:

  • conditions like diabetes, thyroid disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome
  • dry or windy environments
  • laser eye surgery
  • looking at a computer screen for a long time
  • medications that treat colds and allergies, high blood pressure, heartburn, and depression
  • wearing contact lenses for long periods of time

In some people, symptoms improve — for example, if they stop taking a medication that causes dry eye. Others have symptoms that progress or get worse over time.

Dry eye symptoms like burning, stinging, and blurry vision could make it harder to do daily activities. And over time, dry eye can damage the eyes.

But treating dry eye can help relieve symptoms and slow progression. Click through the progression guide below to learn how dry eye symptoms can change over time.

Dry eye symptoms include burning, tearing, light sensitivity, and a gritty feeling in the eyes. The progression of the condition goes from mild to moderate to severe.

At the mildest stage, you might get relief from artificial tears or moisturizing gels. If these options aren’t enough to relieve your symptoms, other treatments, such as anti-inflammatory eye drops or surgery, may help.

If you have symptoms of dry eye, talk with your eye doctor, ophthalmologist, or optometrist about which treatment is right for you.