Understanding Chronic Dry Eye

Chronic Dry Eye (CDE) is a medical disease that can affect daily activities, and over time can damage the front surface of the eye, and may even impact vision. Up to 33 million Americans suffer from CDE, however, many don’t know they have it. Learn more about Chronic Dry Eye so you can be empowered to have an informed conversation with your doctor.


If your eyes don’t create the right quality or quantity of tears, or if the tear film breaks down, your eyes may develop dry areas, which can cause irritation.

Several different tear layers work together to produce tears that keep your eyes moist and healthy. Dysfunctions in these layers can lead to Chronic Dry Eye disease.




If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have Chronic Dry Eye:

  • Dryness
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching, burning, gritty/sandy sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Contact lens discomfort
  • Blurred vision/difficulty driving at night

Symptoms can get worse and more frequent over time. However, they can be addressed with Chronic Dry Eye treatment options.

Talk to your eye doctor about all available treatment options. We’re here to help you start the conversation. Find EyepowermentSM.



The symptoms of Chronic Dry Eye disease can cause certain unintended eye behaviors that can get in the way of the messages you intend to send. Those behaviors include:

  • Frequent blinking
  • Squinting
  • Rubbing
  • Closing your eyes

Make sure your eyes say what you really mean. If you experience symptoms of CDE, they could be impacting your eye language, so call your eye doctor to make an appointment for a Chronic Dry Eye medical exam.




If your eyes feel uncomfortable while wearing contact lenses, it might not be your lenses or contact lens solution that are the problem. You may actually have Chronic Dry Eye disease. You should talk to your eye doctor, and can prepare for your appointment by answering these questions:

  • Do you ever experience dry, itchy, or watery eyes?
  • Does your vision improve when you blink?
  • Are your contacts comfortable in the morning but uncomfortable by the afternoon?
  • Do you use eye drops to try to make your lenses more comfortable?
  • Have you changed contact lens brands or solutions frequently because you were unsatisfied with the comfort you felt?
  • Do you replace your contact lenses more frequently than your brand recommends?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have Chronic Dry Eye—a disease that can result in the symptoms above and if left untreated may have more serious consequences. Ask your eye doctor for a Chronic Dry Eye medical exam today.



  • CDE is more common in people 50 years of age or older
  • CDE tends to occur somewhat more frequently in women than in men
  • CDE can be associated with hormonal changes, common among menopausal or postmenopausal women
  • Inflammation may affect the glands which can decrease tear production
  • CDE may be associated with other eye or health conditions including glaucoma, diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjögren’s syndrome
  • External conditions can aggravate symptoms, including pollen, allergies, dry air, wind, dust, smoke, looking at a computer, and wearing contact lenses


CDE may have long-term consequences for your eyes, because it can be a progressive disease. This means that for some people, CDE may worsen over time.

It can:
  • Damage the front surface of your eyes
  • Increase your risk of eye infection
  • Affect your vision
Schedule a medical exam

If you think you may have symptoms of Chronic Dry Eye disease, don’t wait until your annual vision exam. Since CDE may have potential long-term health consequences for your eyes, it's important you take action to get diagnosed and treated. Your first step should be to schedule a medical exam with your optometrist or ophthalmologist.

Check your insurance

Many people have both a medical health insurance plan that covers exams for eye complaints or symptoms and a routine vision insurance plan that covers exams for contact lens or eyeglass prescriptions. Getting dry eye symptoms checked is a medical exam, and should be covered by your regular medical insurance.

Confirm it’s the right exam

When you call to make your appointment, make sure the office staff identifies your visit as a Chronic Dry Eye medical exam. And when you arrive, remind the receptionist you're there to be evaluated for Chronic Dry Eye disease.

Treatment options for Chronic Dry Eye

Share with your eye doctor any dry eye symptoms and whether you’re using artificial tears and how often you use them. If it turns out that you indeed have Chronic Dry Eye disease, there are different treatment options to discuss with your doctor. Options range from artificial tears for temporary symptom relief, prescription medications prescribed by your doctor, medical devices that deal with symptoms of dry eye, and tear duct plugs that close the tear drainage ducts. Talk to your eye doctor about the treatment that’s right for you.


Make sure your eyes say what you really mean; have an informed conversation with your eye doctor about Chronic Dry Eye disease. Learn more by signing up for our email list.