Dry Eyes

Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome

Anyone can be affected by dry eyes, or dry eye syndrome, but it is estimated that it is more common in women than men, and it is more regularly reported in those over 65, with one in three being affected.

What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

You may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Your eyes are red
  • Your eyes feel gritty or sore and this feeling may increase during the day
  • Your eyelids may stick together when you wake up in the morning
  • Your vision may be temporarily blurred (this may improve with a blink)
  • You may experience extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • If you wear contact lens you may find that your lenses become increasingly less comfortable to wear.

Diagram-of-Dry-Eyes

What are the treatments for dry eye syndrome?

Tears lubricate the eye and stop the surface of the eye from drying out. Dry eye syndrome is caused when your eyes stop making tears as they usually would resulting in discomfort.  Over time, the resulting dryness can damage the surface of the eyeball.

Some of the factors that cause or contribute to dry eye include:

  • ageing, since tear production slows with advancing age
  • menopause
  • medical conditions, such as arthritis
  • medication, including oral contraceptives, antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics and beta-blockers
  • climatic conditions, such as dry air and wind
  • irritants, such as cigarette smoke, dust or chemical exposure
  • any trauma to the eye (including burns)
  • infrequent or incomplete blinking
  • prolonged periods of time in front of a computer screen
  • laser surgery, cataract surgery.

What are the causes of dry eye syndrome?

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment. There is no cure for dry eye, but the condition can be successfully managed.

Your symptoms may be managed using eye drops or you may need medication to help reduce inflammation. If necessary, you may be given a referral for surgery to prevent tears from draining away too easily.

If dry eye is caused by another underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. If necessary, the optometrist may refer you for further tests.