Evaporative dry eye is a type of dry eye disease that occurs when your tears evaporate too quickly, leaving insufficient tears to keep your eyes lubricated.

Evaporative dry eye (EDE) is the most common type of dry eye disease.

The other type of dry eye disease is aqueous deficiency, which is when your eyes don’t produce enough tears.

Keep reading to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for EDE.

According to the National Eye Insitute (NEI), the symptoms of EDE may include:

The eye is covered by a tear film that helps keep your eye lubricated and protected from irritants. It consists of three layers: water, lipid, and mucus.

EDE occurs when you have a deficiency in the outer layer of your tear film, which is the lipid (oily) layer.

The most common cause of EDE is meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian glands are located in your eyelids. They’re responsible for producing fatty substances to help prevent your tears from evaporating.

However, if your meibomian glands become blocked or inflamed, your tears won’t contain the right amount of oil to prevent them from evaporating. This may cause EDE.

The glands may become blocked for many reasons, such as:

If EDE is treated early on, the meibomian gland blockages can be reversed. In some cases, the EDE discomfort can be chronic, requiring ongoing treatment of symptoms.

A healthcare professional will first ask questions about your general health and any medications you may be taking.

Then, they may refer you to an eye specialist like an optometrist or ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye examination.

To diagnose dry eyes, an eye specialist may perform a variety of tests to check for tear film stability, production volume, and quality. According to the NEI, these tests may include:

  • slit lamp test to examine the surface of your eyes
  • Schirmer test to measure the volume of tears
  • tear break-up time (TBUT) test to measure the rate of tear evaporation
  • tear osmolarity
  • checking the tear film for inflammation markers

A doctor may also order other tests to rule out possible causes of your symptoms.

Treatment for EDE will depend on several factors, such as:

  • the severity of your symptoms
  • any medications you may be taking
  • underlying health conditions

It’s important to work with a healthcare professional if you have EDE, as they could develop the best treatment plan for you. This may include a combination of treatments, such as:

If an underlying health condition causes your symptoms of EDE, a healthcare professional may recommend a specific treatment to address it.

It’s important to speak with a healthcare professional if your symptoms of dry eye appear more frequently or worsen. This may be a sign that your dry eye treatment is no longer working.

The following at-home remedies and lifestyle and dietary changes may help prevent EDE:

  • Apply warm compresses to your closed eyelids.
  • Blink regularly to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • Avoid eye drops with preservatives.
  • Minimize screen time, or use the 20-20-20 rule to prevent eyestrain.
  • Humidify the air at work and at home.
  • Avoid smoking and being around people who smoke.
  • Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses outside to protect your eyes from the sun and wind.

In most cases, symptoms of EDE can be relieved and managed with a proper treatment plan.

If an underlying health condition is causing EDE, it’s important to work with a healthcare professional to keep your eye symptoms under control. They may recommend adding, removing, or altering the dosage of some medications you may be taking.

How do you fix evaporative dry eyes?

Treatments for evaporative dry eyes aim to help manage symptoms, but may not get rid of them all. Over-the-counter eye drops are often enough to help treat EDE. However, severe dry eyes may require medical interventions, such as prescription medications, tear duct plugs, or surgery.

What’s the difference between aqueous and evaporative dry eye?

Aqueous dry eye is when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, while evaporative dry eye is when your tears evaporate too quickly. Evaporative dry eye is more common than aqueous dry eye.

How do you test for evaporative dry eyes?

An eye specialist may perform several tests to check for dry eyes, including a slit lamp test, Schirmer test, and tear break-up time (TBUT) tests.

What percentage of dry eye patients have evaporative dry eye?

Research suggests that 85% of people with dry eye disease have evaporative dry eye.

EDE is a dry eye condition when your tears evaporate too quickly. It’s usually caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.

EDE most often does not damage the eyes but the symptoms can be very uncomfortable.

Speak with a healthcare professional if your dry eye symptoms worsen. They could provide a proper treatment plan for you.