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Dry eye

Dry eye treatment and advice is one of our specialities.

 

What causes dry eye syndrome?

The tear film is made up of layers of water, salts, oils, proteins and mucus, which are produced by a number of different glands and cells situated in and around the eyes. The normal function of the tears is to keep the surface of the eye wet and lubricated, so anything affecting their quality can produce a gritty, burning sensation of the eyes that can sometimes disturb vision.

 

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that occurs when the complex tear production process is disrupted in some way. It means either the eyes do not make enough tears, or the tears are of poor quality and evaporate too quickly. This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming inflamed (red and swollen) and irritated. 

 

Here are a few common causes that can trigger a dry eye:

  • Being in a hot or windy climate

  • Wearing contact lenses

  • Certain eye conditions, such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)

  • Auto-immune problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and thyroid deficiency.

  • Side effects of certain medications

  • Hormonal changes, such as during the menopause

 

Although the condition can affect people of any age, your chances of developing dry eye syndrome increase as you get older. It's estimated that up to one in every three people over the age of 65 experiences problems with dry eyes. Dry eye syndrome is also more common in women than men.

 

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome usually affect both eyes and often include:

  • Dryness 

  • Excessive watering

  • Eyes feeling gritty or sore 

  • Pain 

  • Blurring of vision 

  • Redness

  • Foreign body sensation (feeling like you have something in your eye) 

  • Tired eyes 

  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light) 

  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses 

  • Irritation from wind/smoke

 

How dry eye syndrome is treated

Dry eye syndrome is not usually a serious condition. Treatments are available to help relieve the symptoms, which include eye drops to lubricate the eyes, medications to reduce any inflammation, and (if necessary) surgery to prevent tears from draining away easily. If dry eye syndrome is caused by an underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. 

We do have some advance techniques for extreme dry eyes (e.g. sjogrens syndrome) such as scleral contact lenses.

 

Here are some useful hints and tips on how you can reduce your symptoms;

  • Keeping your eyes and eyelids clean and protecting them from dusty, smoky, windy and dry environments - using blephaclean wipes

  • Using your computer or laptop correctly to avoid eye strain (use the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds)

  • Using a humidifier to moisten the air

  • Drinking plenty of water

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes omega-3 fats and colourful fruit and veg

 

Further problems

Dry eye syndrome may be uncomfortable, but does not usually cause any serious problems. 

In rare cases, severe untreated dry eye syndrome can cause scarring of the eye's surface, leading to visual impairment.

 

Contact your GP or visit your nearest hospital eye casualty department immediately if you have any of the following symptoms, as they could be a sign of a more serious condition:

  • Extreme photophobia (sensitivity to light)

  • Very red or painful eyes

  • A deterioration in your vision

Contact us & let us explain it to you.