Dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease), is a condition caused when your eyes produce limited or poor quality tears.
The surface of your eye is covered by a thin layer of liquid known as the tear film (tears). Your tears have several important functions: they lubricate your eyes, keep them clean and free of dust, protect against infection and aid sight by helping to stabilise your vision.
Tears are produced and controlled by a number of systems, and if any part of these systems break down, it can result in a reduced quality or quantity of tears.
People experiencing problems with dry eyes often report the following symptoms:
Dry eye disease can have a significant impact on your quality of life, affecting daily activities such as driving or reading.
Dry eye can be caused by any of the following:
Dry eye is a chronic (long-term) condition, however, there are treatment options available to control your symptoms. In the sections to follow, you will find advice on treatment and lifestyle options that may be able to help with your condition.
Dry eye can be a side effect of some medications. If you experience this side effect, it is advisable to speak to a healthcare professional and take advice on this issue. It may be possible to change your medication or offer suggestions that could reduce these side effects.
Your tears are affected by the environment in which you live, therefore routine changes can have a positive impact on your tear quality and reduce the effects of dry eye, for example:
Lubricating eye drops, gels and ointments are the mainstay of treatment for dry eyes. Lubricants aim to replace the missing water in the tear film. There are many lubricants available, the table below shows the different kinds and when they are recommended:
• These products and gels contain a chemical preservative used to keep your eye drops sterile.
• These products contain no chemical preservatives and still remain sterile due to their system.
There are many lubricant products available with various ingredients. Some drops and gels offer short term relief, whilst others can last longer and offer more comfort, but may cause blurring of your vision for a time period.
Your healthcare professional can recommend the right product for you and advise how often you should use your eye drops. This is particularly important if you have been advised that you have moderate to severe dry eye, and it is important that you use your eye drops as directed, even if your eyes feel better. If you do suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, you will probably have been prescribed or recommended preservative free eye drops.
This is because preservatives in large quantities, or after long term use (months or years), may damage the delicate cells on the surface of the eye, or cause inflammation to the eye.
If you’ve been prescribed or recommended lubricants, it is important that you know how to use them. Please ask your healthcare professional about this, as they will demonstrate and may also be able to offer you an eye drop dispenser to make it easier for you to use your eye drops.
Your eye doctor may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory treatment or recommend an Omega-3 supplement that can target the root cause of the disease and so reduce your symptoms.
What Would Happen Without Treatment?
It is important to treat this condition. Without treatment your pain and discomfort will not disappear, and your quality of life will not improve; it may also result in complications such as scarring of your cornea (the transparent layer at the front of the eye), which can lead to more serious complications.
It is important to continue the treatment because if you do stop, the symptoms will return and possibly worsen.
At Hanson Opticians we now run a Moorfield Eye Hospital approved dry eye clinic at no charge to the patient.
We ask prior to enrolling onto the dry eye clinic, that you book yourself in for a fully comprehensive eye test at Hansons.