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:
The oily outer layer, known as the lipid layer. This layer acts as a barrier to slow down the evaporation of the tears.
The watery middle layer; known as the aqueous layer, provides the moisture of the tears.
The 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 dry eye a problem?
The main eye dry symptoms are:
A stinging, burning, itchy or scratchy sensation in your eyes
Sore or uncomfortable eyes
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
Causes of dry eyes:
Using computers for a long time without a break
Taking certain medicines, such as antidepressants or beta-blockers
Having certain conditions, such as blepharitis
Smoking or drinking alcohol
Spending time in air-conditioned or heated environments
Is there a treatment available for dry eyes?
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. If you have dry eye symptoms it’s better to consult an Optician.
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 dry eye treatment, including the right lubricants to use that are tailored to your particular level and type of dryness. They will also recommend a management plan designed for your specific needs.
How do I get help?
If you’re worried about dry eye, you should visit your Optician or doctor at the earliest opportunity.