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The medical name for dry eye syndrome is keratoconjunctivitis sicca. This term is used when dryness is in its most severe form. However, most dry eye is mild and extremely common, with millions of sufferers. It occurs when your eye doesn’t make enough tears, or when the tears evaporate too quickly. Dry eyes usually go hand-in-hand with other eye conditions, or are a reaction to something external. Symptoms are usually mild and can be managed through lid hygiene and a healthy lifestyle, but more severe cases may require medical treatment.

How do I know I have dry eye syndrome?

Symptoms usually affect both eyes and usually include:

  • feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that worsen throughout the day
  • burning sensation
  • red eyes
  • eyelids that stick together when you wake up
  • temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink

Causes of dry eyes

Dry eyes occur when the tear-production process is disrupted, and this is often related to inflammation around the eye.

This can be caused by a range of factors, including:

  • The natural ageing process
  • Living in a dry and dusty climate
  • Living in a big city with the irritating effects of pollution or dry air
  • Dry heating systems or air conditioning at work or at home
  • Working at a computer or the use of a smart phone for long periods of time
  • Hormonal changes (for example during menopause)
  • Reaction to medication
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Reaction to eye make up
  • Underlying medical conditions, such as blepharitis
  • Certain autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Allergies and allergy medication

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How to treat dry eye syndrome

You can go some way towards improving your dry eyes by simply observing good lid hygiene, leading a healthy lifestyle and following workplace health guidelines to prevent eye strain.

If your dry eyes have been caused by an environmental factor, your first step should be, if possible, to remove the cause, e.g. change medication or stop wearing contact lenses.

If your dry eyes are a symptom of another condition, it is important to seek treatment for that condition from your GP or ophthalmologist.

Lubricating eye drops can do a lot to reduce the discomfort of dry eyes. Some are available over the counter; in more severe cases, your ophthalmologist will be able to prescribe you the right drops for your particular condition.

Dry eyes and laser eye surgery

Depending on the severity of your dry eyes, you may or may not be able to have laser eye surgery. Your surgeon will be able to advise you on the most suitable treatment for your eyes.

Having dry eyes can affect the healing of your eyes after laser eye surgery. However, screening is carried out before you undergo laser eye surgery to make sure your dry eyes won’t significantly impact the recovery of your eyes. The cause of your dry eyes may be investigated and it is possible that further action will be taken to minimise or reverse the effects prior to undergoing laser eye surgery.

Some patients develop dry eyes after laser eye surgery. This is quite common and can be treated with drops which your laser eye surgeon will give you to take home with you following the procedure. Dryness following laser eye surgery typically improves over a few months.

Alternatives to laser eye surgery for patients with dry eye

Some patients with dry eye should not have LASIK or LASEK laser surgery due to the risk of making their dry eye condition worse. If this is the case for you, a very good option is the Visian ICL implantable contact lens. This is a special type of lens implant that is placed behind the pupil inside the eye.

The lens is not visible from the outside and cannot be felt. Visian ICL lenses have been used since the early 90s. Various models of the lens have evolved over this time.

At OCL Vision we use the latest V4C model lens with Centraflow technology. Because the lens is inserted into the eye through a very small 2mm incision at the edge of the cornea the surface of the eye and tear film are not disturbed. Unlike a normal contact lens on the surface of the eye the ICL lens does not require any cleaning or maintenance. The procedure is reversible and the lens can be removed when required (for instance when cataract surgery may be required later in life). Visual recovery after ICL surgery is rapid, with most patients achieving excellent unaided vision within a day or two of surgery.

If you have any questions around laser eye surgery or our service, please feel free to make an enquiry or call us on 0203 369 2020

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