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. 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.
Symptoms usually affect both eyes and usually include:
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:
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.
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.
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.