Dry eye syndrome is an eye condition where not enough tears dispense to nourish and lubricate the eye, according to the American Optometric Association. Individuals with dry eye syndrome exhibit poor quality of tears or do not naturally produce enough tears.
People with dry eye syndrome do not have the lubrication to keep the eyes smooth and clear, reduce risks of eye infection, and remove debris or foreign matter in the eye, according to the American Optometric Association. Dry eye syndrome is often a chronic condition that affects older adults more than other individuals, especially women experiencing hormonal changes during pregnancy or menopause.
Additional causes of dry eyes may include cold or allergy medications, sun exposure, dry environments, and smoking or secondhand smoke exposure, according to MedlinePlus. Heat or chemical burns in addition to previous eye surgeries can also cause dry eye syndrome. In rare cases, autoimmune disorders can destroy glands that produce tears and cause dry eyes.
People who have dry eye syndrome have symptoms that include burning, irritated, scratchy or gritty eyes, explains the American Optometric Association. In addition, symptoms include blurred vision and excess watering. The front portion of the eye can also become damaged due to excess dryness.