Worst Chronic Dry Eye Symptoms

Itchy, uncomfortable, annoying. This is how people living with chronic dry eye (CDE) describe this condition. CDE can be a nightmare to live with. From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, this condition can be tormenting.

To find out more about the reality of living with CDE, we reached out on the ChronicDryEye.net Facebook page and asked: “What is the worst dry eye symptom we've experienced?”

Almost 100 people responded. Here is what they shared.

Mornings are the hardest

Many people shared that mornings are the worst. For them, night is anything but a time for bodily rest and repair. When they wake up, their eyes are even drier than they normally are, making it a chore to start the day.

“Every morning, I have red, burning eyes.”

“Not being able to open my eyes in the morning.”

“Mornings are when I figure out if I can read or see at all once I open my eyelids. Usually I open one eye to read. Sometimes I can only squint.”

Blurry vision

Blurry vision was a common symptom in the community, which makes sense. When your eyes are not properly moist and lubricated, they do not function well.

“I often have super blurry vision, like I do today.”

“Blurry vision in the morning.”


This symptom can be especially vexing because rubbing your eyes can typically make any discomfort worse. Drops may provide some relief, but that itching sensation can be tricky to ignore.

“The itching.”

“I am miserable with how much my eyes and upper/lower eyelids itch! I have not had any success with prescriptions for ointments to help with the itching of my eyes. I use Aquaphor on the upper and lower eyelids, which helps.”


CDE is painful for many, and it is the kind of pain that is hard to distance yourself from. The good news is that many people in the community have tried different eye drops. And many have found relief after trying a handful of doctor-recommended options.

“The feeling that I have something sharp under my eyelid and that it is poking me in the eyeball.”

“Stinging around the lid area when I was diagnosed with extremely dry eye.”

Cornea problems

Several people shared that their CDE resulted in cornea damage. Your cornea, which covers the pupil and iris, is much more sensitive than your skin. The cornea can be damaged if it is not adequately protected by lubrication and mucus.1

“My eyes were so dry that it caused tiny pinholes in my cornea.”

“I ripped a 2-millimeter chunk of my cornea off in the morning!”

Eyelids that stick

A handful of people said that it felt as though their eyelids were sticking and that they could not open their eyes. Tear ducts help move fluid across your eyes.2 When your eyes dry out, it can be difficult to feel comfortable opening them again. People shared that eye drops helped.

“It feels like my eyelids are stuck to my eye when I wake up.”

“I have found that using GenTeal Severe Day and Night Gel Drops applied at bedtime stops my eyelids from sticking.”

Thank you for sharing

We want to say thank you to everyone in the community who contributed. We are grateful to see responses from so many.

If you are interested in sharing your CDE story with our community, check out our Stories page and get started.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ChronicDryEye.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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