From time to time we all feel like our eyes can get dry and tired, but if your eyes regularly feel red, sore and uncomfortable, you might be suffering from dry eye syndrome.
Dry eye is common and occurs when your tears evaporate faster than usual, or if your eyes cannot produce enough tears. Tears don’t just flow when you start welling up while watching a sad film, they should always be there, to constantly lubricate your eyes. You can also have dry eyes despite tears rolling down your cheeks – if the tears are of poor quality, they stay on the surface of your eyes.
Dry eye becomes more common as you get older because we produce fewer tears and our eyelids are less effective in spreading the tears across the surface of our eyes. – about 33% of people over 65 experience problems with dry eyes.
Although this condition is becoming more prevalent in young people, and it’s thought to be related to excessive screen use. When we’re looking at a screen we blink less frequently, at a lower rate and not fully so our tears evaporate and are not spread evenly over the surface of the eyes.
What are the symptoms?
If you have itchy eyes, redness, the sensation of having something in your eye, a gritty feeling or watery eyes as you try to over-compensate for the lack of tears, you could have dry eyes.
At Leightons we can diagnose dry eye syndrome by thoroughly discussing your symptoms and making an assessment of the front of your eye (the anterior eye). This includes a fluorescein or lissamine green dye test. These dyes highlight dry or damaged cells and help us examine the flow of tears.
If you think you have dry eye and exhibit some of the above symptoms, visit your local Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care Optometrist for diagnosis and treatment.
Why does it happen?
There’s no single cause of dry eye syndrome, but there are a number of factors that can contribute.
- Underlying medical conditions, such as blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelids), lupus, contact dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Side effects of some medicine, such as antihistamines, antidepressantsand diuretics.
- For women, dry eye can happen during menopause, pregnancy, or while using the pill.
- Due to dry, windy weather or even high altitude.
- Central Heating and Air conditioning will further evaporate tears in the home, office or car
- Following laser eye surgery many people initially are aware of having dry eye.
- Activities like reading, writing or working at a computer without breaks. Try blinking regularly to stimulate the flow of tears around your eyes.
How can it be treated?
You can make the most of your natural tears by drinking more fluids and staying well hydrated, and eating more foods containing omega 3 and omega 6, such as oily fish, sunflower seeds and walnuts.
You can also try artificial tear eye drops. This is a common treatment clinically proven to relive the gritty, sore sensation of dry eye syndrome. Pop into your local branch of Leightons to pick up artificial tear eye drops such as Thealoz Duo – a dual-action eye drop that hydrates and protects the surface of the eye.
Blepharitis is a common condition which often goes hand in hand with dry eye. The condition effects the Meibomian glands on the margin of your eyelid, which is what produces the oil layer of your tears. When effected with Blepharitis, the skin of your eyelid around the base of your eyelashes can become inflamed and swollen. It can occur at any age and you may also feel your eyes are itchy, sore and red with your eyelashes being greasy or crusty. It is also important to ensure that your eyelids are clear before cataract surgery as blepharitis is one of the most common cause for a cataract operation to be cancelled.
Blepharitis can be treated by using a warm compress such as an eye-bag, to soften the oils produced in the glands in your eyelids and lid hygiene which is gently cleansing the outer eye lid around the eyelashes with a sterile wipe such as Blephaclean.
We can take a look
If you’re unsure if you have dry eye syndrome and want to book an eye test to find out, or simply want to try eye drops, contact your eye care experts at Leightons.