We all feel like our eyes can get dry and tired from time to time, but if your eyes regularly feel red, sore and uncomfortable, you might be suffering from dry eye syndrome.
It can happen to anyone at any age, but it becomes more common as you get older – an estimated 33% of people over 65 experience problems with dry eyes.
What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome, often referred to as just ‘dry eye’, 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’re always there, constantly lubricating your eyes. If your eyes produce tears in too low a quantity, or produce poor-quality tears, dry eye syndrome could be the result.
What are the symptoms?
Classic symptoms include itchy eyes, redness, the sensation of constantly having something in your eye, and a gritty feeling. Symptoms can also include excessive watering from the eye, as the body attempts to over-compensate for the lack of tears.
If you think you have dry eye and exhibit some or all of the above symptoms, visit one of our qualified opticians for diagnosis and treatment, or visit your GP.
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.
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 medicines, such as antihistamines, antidepressants and diuretics.
- For women, dry eye can happen during menopause, pregnancy, or while using the pill.
- Due to dry, windy weather or even high altitude.
- Through overuse of contact lenses or following laser eye surgery.
- 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 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.
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.