Dry eyes and tired eyes have many similarities. With both conditions, you may have blurry vision, eye dryness, burning sensation in the eye, and light sensitivity. So, how to tell them apart?

You can start by noting the exact symptoms you have. Then see what’s triggering the symptoms in the first place. Once you know the symptoms and causes, you can begin an effective treatment or take precautions as needed.

In this post, we explain the difference between dry eyes and tired eyes based on their symptoms, causes, and treatment methods. Let’s get started.

Dry Eyes Vs Tired Eyes Explained

So, what is dry eyes? Dry eyes occurs when your tear ducts don’t make enough tears to lubricate the surface of your eyes. Or when there is an imbalance in the components of the tear film. This can make your eyes feel dry and gritty all the time.

Excessive dryness can lead to watery eyes, too. That’s because your tear ducts try to counteract dryness by flooding your eyes with tears. You may also experience inflammation, redness, blurriness, and itchiness.

Many causes may lead to dry eyes, including too much screen time, poor diet, eye surgery, and overuse of contact lenses.

There is no permanent treatment for dry eyes. But fixing the underlying cause of dryness can help maintain moisture in your eyes.

Now, what are tired eyes? You get tired eyes when your eyes become fatigued and heavy. You may have pain around the eye, excessive tearing, light sensitivity, headaches, and even back and shoulder pain.

Eye fatigue occurs if you use your eyes a lot. For example, if you stare at a computer all day, drive long distances without a break, read in dim light, or do detailed embroidery.

Tired eyes can be annoying, but it’s nothing to worry about. Your eyes will return to normal if you reduce eyestrain and rest them. You can also limit your screen time, adjust the lighting, and use artificial tears to relax your eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes Vs Tired Eyes

Both dry eyes and tired eyes come with symptoms like light sensitivity, watery eyes, blurriness, irritation, and a gritty feeling in the eye.

But dry eyes can cause a stinging sensation in the eye. On the other hand, when you have tired eyes, you will experience pain around your eyes.

What’s more, while dry eyes will cause only eye discomfort, tired eyes can result in pain in other body parts, too, like your neck and shoulder.

closeup of human eye including pupil, lens, cornea, sclera, and lashes

Take a closer look at dry eyes and tired eyes symptoms.

Dry Eye Symptoms

Dry eyes syndrome generally affects both eyes. You will most likely have gritty, itchy, and red eyes. Here are the common dry eyes symptoms to look out for.

  • Dry and gritty feeling in the eye, like there’s sand in them
  • Redness and inflammation
  • Excessive watering
  • Blurring of vision
  • Stinging and painful sensations
  • Eye irritation and itchiness
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Light sensitivity
  • Stringy mucus in the eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses

Tired Eyes Symptoms

Tired eyes, or eye strain, can make your eyes feel weak, achy, or heavy due to intense use. Here are some common tired eyes symptoms and signs to note.

  • Pain around the eyes
  • Burning, sore, or tired eyes
  • Heaviness in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Recurring headaches triggered while intensely using your eyes
  • Red, watery, and sensitive eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Back, neck, and shoulder pain
  • Vertigo
  • Difficulty concentrating

Causes of Dry Eyes Vs Tired Eyes

Both dry eyes and tired eyes can have multiple causes. Dry eyes is caused by anything that hampers the production of healthy tears. This includes aging, hormonal changes, and poor diet.

On the other hand, tired eyes is the result of eyestrain from intense use of your eyes. Some common causes include reading in dim lighting, staring at a screen all day, and doing close-up needlework.

Take a closer look at what’s causing your dry eyes and tired eyes.

Dry Eyes Causes

Dry eye syndrome has many causes, from hormonal changes and age to excessive use of devices, allergies, and environmental factors. Depending on your age, occupation, and lifestyle, some of these causes will be more apparent than others.

Tired Eyes Causes

Your eyes can feel tired for many reasons. These include poor sleeping patterns, eye strain from digital devices, and reading in low light. Basically, anything that may strain your eyes for long periods.

  • Poor night’s sleep
  • Allergies
  • Reading for a long period, especially on a digital device
  • Working on the computer all day
  • Straining your eyes to see in dim light
  • Having an underlying eye condition, such as uncorrected vision
  • Stress or fatigue
  • Driving for prolonged periods
  • Exposure to bright light or glare
  • Doing close up embroidery, weaving, or sewing

Treatment for Dry Eyes Vs Tired Eyes

Treatment for both dry eyes and tired eyes focuses on identifying and addressing underlying causes. You can also take precautions to prevent both conditions in the first place.

man rubbing his right eye with his hand

Dry Eyes Treatment and Precautions

Dry eyes has no permanent treatment. Wetting drops and ointments can soothe your eyes, but they don’t cure the underlying causes. However, limiting your screen time, eating healthy, taking an eye health supplement, or using a humidifier can help.

  • Reduce screen time
  • Apply artificial tears and ointments
  • Take medications to stimulate tear production
  • Use punctal plugs to slow down tear loss
  • Post a “Blink” note on your computer as a reminder
  • Don’t overwear contact lenses
  • Reduce exposure to smoky, windy, and dry environments
  • Use a humidifier at home and office
  • Apply a warm compress to reduce inflammation and redness
  • Eat a diet rich in Vitamin A
  • Keep yourself hydrated
  • Remove eye makeup before bedtime

Tired Eyes Treatment and Precautions

Treatment for tired eyes includes making changes in your daily habits and environment. You may also need to treat any underlying eye condition.

  • Use a magnifier while doing detailed work like sewing and weaving
  • Limit your screen time
  • While working on a computer or watching TV, adjust the lighting
  • Take regular breaks while driving
  • Use preservative-free wetting drops for quick relief
  • Check the lighting and reduce glare
  • Use a glare filter for your screen
  • Get enough sleep
  • Wear glasses with lens coatings and tints
  • Treat any underlying eye condition, like eye muscle imbalance or uncorrected vision
  • Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet
  • Read in comfortable lighting
person reading book in shadowy light with finger on the right page seen over their shoulder

Eye Care Routine

You can’t always prevent dry eyes and tired eyes. But you can take measures to minimize them. An eye care routine will help.

You can start by reducing exposure to direct sunlight. Wear sunglasses for protection from UV rays.

Blink consciously and often while using a digital device. Take regular screen breaks and use a blue light filter while working at a computer. You can also apply warm compresses for relief.

Make sure to remove any eye makeup before sleeping. Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and veggies. And finally, drink plenty of water during the day.

A proper eye care routine will help maintain your vision and eye health. It will also help ease your dry eyes and tired eyes.

Not sure whether you have dry eyes or tired eyes? Our simple online test can help you find out. Take the Dry Eye Test now!

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