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:
Dry eyes can have many causes, including:
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.