MS and Dry, Sore, Itchy and Gritty Eyes

Good Morning Everyone,

I have been diognosed with MS since July 2008, I have had several relapses since then but am now very fortunate to be on a trial for Campath.

Before I was dionosed, I had problems with my eyes where they very sore and irritated like someone has thrown grit into them and they feel very hot and look red around the eye lids. I have been back and forth to the eye hospital but with no luck as they dont know what the problem is. 

I can go periods of months or more when my eyes feel totally normal, and then all of a sudden they will flare up and become so sore and red with the gritty feeling. Coldness on my eyes help to relive them.

Nearly 11 years I have suffered with my eyes and I am determined to find out if its a side effect of MS.(May I add that I have noticed that a few weeks before my period it can become worse - I am nearly sure that it cld be hormone related?)

It affects my confidence very badly as its very obvious to others and apart from this its so uncomfortable for me.

Does anyone else suffer from this and if so what do they do to help reduce the discomfort?

Thanks for taking the time to read my post



Hi Laura,

I also get this, but despite my strong suspicion that it's to do with MS (seems to have developed in parallel with other symptoms, and over the same timescale), I've never got an answer.  I've had it confirmed it's not optic neuritis - which I never thought it was - but I've never had any diagnosis of what it actually IS.

In my case, it's always the same eye.  Infection has been ruled out.  The only suggestion so far has been that it's something resembling an allergy.  I'm rather prone to allergies, as are other members of the family.  So I might accept this - IF it wasn't just the one eye.  Surely, you're either allergic to something or you're not?  Allergy in only one eye makes no sense to me.  I've had my makeup blamed, and all sorts, even though I've never noticed any correlation with cosmetic use.  I've had it happen when I've not worn makeup for ages; equally, I've had spells when I've worn makeup daily, with no problem whatsoever.  So there's no rhyme nor reason to it.

I've found a prescription of steroid drops has been the only thing that really helps, but these are not safe for long-term use, so I have to wait until I'm desperate before asking.  The doctor sometimes forgets, and tries to fob me off with antibiotic drops instead - which are the usual recourse, with such symptoms.  So I have to remind her this is a recurring problem, not a new thing, and that we already established antibiotics don't work!

"Oh, don't they?  Are you sure?"

"Absolutely positive.  Steroids work, though."

If I'm trying to soldier on without steroid drops, I sometimes take a combination of antihistamines (on the assumption it IS similar to an allergy), aspirin (to try to reduce inflammation as far as possible), and moisturising eye drops.  These are certainly not a fix, but dogged perseverance seems to calm it down slightly.  To try to stop it crusting up at night, I sometimes apply a dab of vaseline or baby oil on the lid before going to bed.  Again, this doesn't make a huge amount of difference, but just seems to keep it moisturised enough that it's not painfully glued shut in the morning.

Certain auto-immune diseases definitely CAN cause eye irritation, but MS is not generally considered to be one of them.  So far, I've consistently tested negative for all the others, so MS is the only chronic condition we know I've got.







my optician noted that i have dry eyes and prescribed artificial tears (you can buy these over the counter)

i suppose its like everything else, you just have to try different things until you find one that works for you


good luck


carole x

Hi, the optician said I had dry eyes and blocked ducts (?) and recommended a warm eye mask which you microwave and wear for ten minutes. My eyes feel dry and gritty like yours but after using this mask ( which is very relaxing so I am not complaining!) they feel much better for a short time.

I developed this condition before I was diagnosed with MS. My optician examining my eyes said it was like snowstorm in there, this caused by dryness. Usually age related near the menopause - or maybe not! However the normal articial tears that I had been using were useless because what was needed was oily tears, not water based tears. So now I use Gel Tears (trade name) which I get from the local pharmacy.

In addition I also clean my eyelashes night and morning with a few drops of baby shampoo in warm water using a cotton bud, before applying the gel tears. The relief I experienced after I first used the gel tears was enormous, after years of using antihistamine type of artificial tears. So not an allergic reaction at all, just lack of oily tears!

HTH Carol


I've had dry, itchy, sensitive eyes as long as I can remember (I'm 42) and made no connection to my having MS (finally diagnosed Dec 2011), I've tried various things over the years including artificial tears (hydro mellose I think?) but nothing worked.

Last year one of my eyes got very sore, as if there was a stye or cyst but neither me or my GP could see anything.  I was referred last August to Opthalmology and was finally seen last week (don't think that fits the 18 week waiting time?!?) and she said that I didn't have a cyst, my eyelid was actually sticking to my eye because it was so dry!  It was rubbing so much that it felt like a cyst, the other eye wasn't much better.  The Opthalmologist told me that there could well be a link with MS because problems with 'fluid' production are common, such as saliva, eyes and also joints which I found surprising. 

Apparently artifical tears such as the one I tried and the ones that only last a month are now out of favour with Opthalmologists because they have too many preservatives in them?!?  She gave me a new one on the market called Hylo Forte, its in a pump which means it lasts 6 months and it's thicker (more oily like a previous poster mentioned).  I've been using it for a week now and my eyes feel much better, the one with the 'cyst' is still sore but nowhere near as bad as it was.

She's going to see me again in 3 months and if I'm still having issues there are apparently other things that can be tried. 

Maybe worth asking about these new drops.




I too suffer from this exactly the same way. Mine started in one eye before my diagnosis, strangely a couple of years later I lost the sight in that eye which lead to an ms diagnosis. I was never bothered by the gritty symtoms in that eye again and it’s now 13 years later. However, just a few months ago it has began happening in the other eye ( my good eye). I told my Neurologist about it at my annual review and he has asked to see me back in three months time and not annually this time. He never gives much feedback just things like it could be MS or it could be an allergy. I don’t think its allergy related as it’s odd how it happens in one eye at a time. It’s has a very random onset, I could be sitting having a cup of tea and it would start. Eye drops for allergy don’t work but dry eye drops work sometimes. It’s a very annoying and sometimes embarrassing symtom. I can sympathise completely. X

Wow I too get this and never met anyone else with this problem, I stopped driving about a year and half ago due to this problem. For the past 20 years I have been fobed of by doctors with a number of symptoms and now in considering ms .Feel like I’m going mad sat here shivering at the minute so so could .

I have had exactly the same problem with my eyes and the only thing that actually works is an eye ointment. Gels and liquid drops do nothing what so ever.

Hi, my GP prescribes me an eye thick goo for night time and a lighter one for the day, apparently I have no liquid left in my eyes so they are sore and hurt. The goo and lotion help a great deal but only if I use them all the time, if I stop the soreness returns. I tried the chemist options but they weren’t enough.

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I haven’t been diagnosed yet with MS as waiting to get in to see my neurologist. my eyes are doing the same thing, it’s so itchy I feel like ripping my eyes out, it’s stops as fast as it starts, but noticed my others symptoms get worse after, eye drops don’t help and I’ve tried all types of over the counter from gels to allergy types, sort of glad other people have the same problem.

Yep, I also get this.

I use eye drops for “Dry Eye”.

They work for a little while.

I think the condition is called blepharitis, it comes in various stages, from mild dry itchy to crusty red swollen eye lids.

You can buy eye pads that you warm up in the microwave to lay on the eye lids, they help open up the tear ducts.

The term "Dry Eye’ is a bit misleading because your eyes are not actually dry, its the moisture on the eye is the wrong type of moister due to the tear ducts being blocked.

Basically the moisture around the eye and eye lids hasn’t got enough oils in it to lubricate the eye, due to the tear ducts running along the edge of the eye being blocked.

Every time we blink the edge of our eyelids come together and when they touch it releases oils from the tear ducts, but with blepharitis the oils cannot be released, so the result is a sore crusty eye due to wetness rather than an oilness, (if that such a word) ?

A “lack of oily tears”

That’s exactly 100% correct


Just read this post. My eyes get a bit dry and I wear contact lenses so use a moisturising solution.

The optician said my tear ducts under and above the eyelashes don’t produce enough moisture or get blocked so become small white spots.

Her suggestion was to use a solution of baby shampoo and warm water and wipe along the ducts with a cotton wool stick or pad. Seems to work.

Never thought of it as a symptom but that’s the beauty of MS, anything can happen!!


I use drops for dry eye and according to Moorfields hospital I can use them up to six times a day. Blepharitis is a separate chronic condition that some people develop.

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Hi, I also get that dry eye and grit feeling. Use the dry eye drops, seems to alleviate the symptoms for a while. Reading doesn’t help, which is a shame as I love a good book!

Theres a few underlaying conditions that can cause dry eye.

Sjogrens syndrome, Arthritis, Lupus, Thyroid disorders, and many more…

Even some medications cause dry eye, including some contraceptive pills.

The condition belepharitis can be caused by a bacteria on the eye lids or dermatitis, this then leads to dry eye, because the tear ducts get blocked and cant release the oils that are needed to lubricate the eye.

Your eye can sometimes actually feel wetter than normal, but this is in fact the wrong type of wetness.

I used to suffer from it a lot, but it’s seems to be not so often now, for some reason ?