Dry eyes

Dry eye is a common condition, where there are not enough tears to lubricate the surface of the eye, or the tears are of poor quality. Tears are important in maintaining the health of the cornea & conjunctiva of the eyes, and for providing clear vision. Most of the time the condition is more annoying than severe, but the discomfort can vary from mild to debilitating, and in severe cases dry eye can damage the front surface of the eye, leading to permanent scarring. People with dry eyes may experience symptoms including:

  • Irritated eyes
  • Scratchy, gritty eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Burning eyes
  • Foreign body feeling
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred or fluctuating vision

Dry eyes can have many causes, including:

  • Age – the older we are, the more likely we are to have dry eyes
  • Gender – females are more likely to have dry eyes than males
  • Some medications, eg antihistamines
  • Some medical conditions, eg rheumatoid arthritis
  • Environment, eg wind, air conditioning, computer and screen use
  • Other factors, eg contact lens wear, ocular surgery

Dry eye is increasingly common among people who spend a lot of time in front of screens, smartphones, Ipads, etc.

Unfortunately, dry eye is a chronic condition with no cure, but there are a range of treatments that can help ease the symptoms. If the source of the problem is dry air, turning down the air-conditioner and heater and staying out of the wind can reduce tear evaporation. Turning off your devices is an obvious antidote to screen time and making a conscious effort to blink more often can also help.

An optometrist can diagnose dry eye and advice the best treatment regime. For some people over-the-counter eye drops, ointments and sprays are the most effective dry eye treatments. For others different or additional treatment options may be recommended, including heat and steam goggles, lid wipes, or prescribed eyedrops.

While dry eye isn’t usually a serious condition, it can have a significant impact on our daily lives, so it is important to seek help if you are experiencing any symptoms.

We are here to help, ask your optometrist if you have any questions about dry eyes or book an eye test today.