The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can be irritating and difficult to cope with. It’s common for your eyes to feel gritty, tired and uncomfortable on a regular basis.
‘Dry eye syndrome’ can be caused by a variety of factors; environmental factors, such as air conditioning and heating, computer use, and certain medications such as Roaccutane or medical conditions, such as lupus, Sjogrens syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Air conditioning and heating
Medications such as anti-depressants and acne treatments
Medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogrens syndrome
Contact lens use
Meibomian gland dysfunction
The most common cause of dry eyes is rapid evaporation of tears due to meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibum is an oily substance which prevents tears from evaporating, keeping your eyes hydrated. When a Meibomian gland becomes blocked and inflamed, this oily substance is reduced and your eyes can get dehydrated, making them dry and uncomfortable.
This condition is more common in older people and in post-menopausal women. Dry eye syndrome is commonly experienced by people over the age of 50 in both genders.
Women using birth control pills and pregnant women are also at a higher risk due to hormonal changes.
During your consultation, you may be advised that you need a BlephEx™ treatment, which, together with a dry eye treatment plan, can significantly improve your dry eye symptoms. Treatments are usually needed twice a year but will be adapted to suit your requirements.
Artificial tear supplements are a helpful dry eyes treatment solution when tackling this eye condition. In some cases, antibiotics or steroids may be prescribed. Very small plugs can be inserted to prevent tear drainage from the eye and specialist medications such as Restasis or Ikervis may be prescribed. In severe cases, serum eye drops can be prescribed.
Dry eyes themselves can’t be ‘cured’ but the condition causing the dry eyes can be, and artificial tear supplements can alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms.
A diet which is low in Vitamin A and Omega-3 fatty acids can cause dry eye syndrome, so taking supplements or eating more carrots, broccoli, liver, fish, walnuts, and vegetable oils can help.
Dry eyes can be caused by wearing contact lenses, so taking a break from them can help. Speak to your optician as switching brand of contact lens may reduce your propensity to dry eye syndrome.
Our optometrist Purvi Thomson answers the question of whether laser eye surgery can be performed if you have dry eyes.
Dry eyes should not cause you any long-term health problems but the discomfort can become an issue, and too much dryness can cause permanent damage to the front of your eye. It is important that you seek treatment for dry eyes from your optician as you are at an increased risk of eye infections.
Our surgeons at Opthalmic Consultants of London have extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes.
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