Dry eye means that your eyes may not be making enough tears, that the tears which are being produced are of poor quality or that the tears that are produced evaporate away. The normal function of tears is to keep the surface of the eye wet and lubricated so any shortage of tears or reduction in their quality can produce a gritty, burning sensation of the eyes and can also disturb vision.
The symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include:
What are the causes of Dry Eye?
- Burning, Stinging or itching
- Gritty feeling
- Irritation from wind or smoke
- Blurred or smeary vision
- Tired eyes
- Red eyes
- Excessive watering
- Photophobia ( sensitivity to light)
- Contact lens discomfort
Dry eye can be caused by a wide variety of everyday factors and include:
- Dry environment and pollution
- Computer use
- Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g menopause.
- Dry eye may also be symptomatic of general health problems or disease eg people with arthritis are more prone to dry eye
- Certain types of medications. Your Optometrist can advice of any known links between medicines and dry eye.
How is dry eye treated?
In some cases patients symptoms can be relieved simply by altering the external influences above. Protecting the eye from dehydrating influences such as a cold wind by wearing spectacles or sunglasses.
Tears must be distributed efficiently, replaced or conserved in order to provide relief. As dry eye syndrome is caused by an imbalance of tears of the eyes surface the most logical way to treat the problem is to artificially replace the tears and by doing so improve both quantity and quality. Even a watery eye can be caused by the tears evaporating. This results in dry patches, which the eye tries to correct by a flood of watery tears. Sometimes too much tear flow just needs better lubrication. There are a variety of artificial tears available in our practices.
In severe cases of dry eye punctum plugging is avaliable where tiny little plugs are put into the tear ducts to prevent the tears draining away.