Dry Eye

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a common condition where your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly and don’t spread evenly across the front of the eye.

Every time you blink, your eyelids spread a thin layer of tears across the front of the eye. This tear film prevents our eyes from feeling dry and is made up of three layers:

  • Oily outer layer, known as the lipid layer. This layer acts as a barrier to slow down the evaporation of the tears.
  • Watery middle layer, known as the aqueous layer. This provides the moisture of the tears.
  • Sticky inner layer, known as the mucous layer. This layer keeps the tears in contact with the cornea, the clear front of the eye. This helps the watery layer remain in the right place.

 

How do I know if I have a problem?

The main indication that you have dry eye are:

  • A stinging, burning, itchy or scratchy sensation in your eyes.
  • Sore or uncomfortable eyes.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Watery eyes, which is the body's response to the irritation of dry eyes. These tears aren't good quality and don't lubricate the eye effectively.
  • Eye redness.

Causes of dry eyes

Dry eyes are more common when:

  • using computers for a long time without a break.
  • you take certain medicines, such as antidepressants or beta blockers.
  • you have certain conditions, such as blepharitis.
  • you smoke or drink alcohol.
  • you spend time in air-conditioned or heated environments.

 

What treatment is available?

Dry eye tends to be a long term condition. Once you have it you will usually be prone to it and will need ongoing treatment.

There are a number of treatments available but most people with dry eyes will need to use some form of drops or gel called 'lubricants'. These can help your eyes feel more comfortable.

Your optician will advise you on the correct type of lubricants to use, tailored to your particular level and type of dryness. They will recommend a management plan designed for your specific needs.

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