DRY EYES

Dry eyes are a common condition where the surface of the eyes are insufficiently lubricated. This can be due to poor quality tears, the tear film evaporating too quickly or by having an insufficient volume of tears.

Symptoms and signsinclude grittiness, a burning sensation on the eye, blurry/misty vision, redness, light sensitivity, tired eyes and a stringy discharge from the eyes. Usually both eyes are affected. Somewhat surprisingly, dry eye can also cause the eyes to water. This is due to reflex tearing which produces watery tears which lack quality.

RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES
  • Increasing age
  • Females. Due to hormonal changes in pregnancy and menopause
  • Poor diet
  • Smoking
  • Contact lens wearers
  • Medical conditions including diabetes and arthritis
  • Medications such as antihistamines, blood pressure tablets, antidepressants and more
  • Eye surgery
  • Screen use
  • Eyelid issues
  • Poor environment which includes dry air, wind and smoke

PREVENTION
  • Try not to sit directly opposite or under air-conditioning. Consider adding a humidifier to combat dry indoor air.
  • VDU displays should be just below eye level to avoid your eyes opening too wide.
  • A balanced diet which includes sources of Vitamin A(oily fish, liver based products) and beta-carotene (carrots, red peppers, spinach, mango).
  • Blinking. We can blink up to 5 times less when visual concentrating. Remember to blink. Take regular breaks. Close your eyes and gently massage over the eyelids.
  • Avoid smoking
  • Good sleep

TREATMENT
  • Use artificial tears throughout the day to keep the eyes moist.
  • Hot compresses. Best achieved with eye masks heated in the microwave. A clean face cloth with warm to hot water is often recommended but this method struggles to maintain the right temperature.
  • Eyelid scrubs. Many commercial scrubs exist. Alternatively, use clean fingers and a lubricating face wash to clean the base of the lashes. Previously, baby shampoo has been recommended but some studies have shown this may lead to worsening symptoms in some patients.
  • It is important to visit your optometrist for professional advice.

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