Dry Eyes, or dry eyes syndrome, has reached epidemic proportions globally. It is estimated that up to 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 experiences dry eye syndrome and it is also more common in women than men.
Without proper assessment, treatment can be hit and miss.
What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
You may experience one of more of the following symptoms:
- Your eyes are red
- Your eyes feel gritty, itchy or sore and this feeling gets worse during the day
- Your eyelids stick together when you wake up in the morning
- Your vision may be temporarily blurred (this may improve with a blink)
- You may experience extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- If you wear contact lens you may find that your lenses become increasingly less comfortable to wear.
What causes dry eyes?
Dry eye syndrome is caused when your eyes stop making tears as they usually would. This may be because the tears evaporate too quickly, there maybe an issue with drainage, or it might be because not enough tears are produced.
Tears are a complex combination of water, oils and lipids and they help to lubricate the eye, to wash away any debris and to protect against infection.
When your eyes stop making tears as they usually would, your eyes can feel dry, irritated and inflamed.
This can happen for many reasons:
- Environment causes, such as being in hot or windy conditions
- Hormonal changes, such as during the menopause
- Wearing contact lenses
- Certain underlying medical conditions
- Side effects from certain medications
How is dry eye syndrome treated?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to make an appointment.
Your symptoms may be managed using eye drops or you may need medication to help reduce inflammation. If necessary, you may be given a referral for surgery to prevent tears from draining away too easily.
If dry eye is caused by another underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. If necessary, the optometrist may refer you for further tests.