Do your eyes suffer from any of the symptoms listed below?
A dry sensation
Burning, stinging or itching
Irritation from wind or smoke
Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Contact lens discomfort
If you tick off any of the symptoms listed, you may be suffering from dry eye syndrome and could benefit from further investigation.
These complaints are very commonly found in patients whose work involves periods of concentrated vision e.g. extended computer use. Symptoms usually worsen as the day progresses.
Your dry eye symptoms can be caused by a wide variety of everyday factors. In some cases we are able to relieve patient’s symptoms simply by altering these external influences. Please read through the following list of common causes to see if you are at greater risk of suffering from dry eye syndrome:
Risk increases as you get older
Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g. menopause
Adverse environmental conditions
Wearing contact lenses
Taking medication such as; antihistamines, oral contraceptives, diuretics, decongestants, alcohol and anti-depressants
Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
Contact lens discomfort
Dry eye may also be symptomatic of general health problems or disease e.g. people with arthritis are more prone to dry eye (Sjogren’s Syndrome = arthritis + dry eye + dry mouth).
If you’re suffering from dry eye syndrome it may help if you understand how your eye works. Tears are formed in glands located around each eye and collect in a tear meniscus, or reservoir, on the upper and lower lid. Each time you blink, they are spread by the lids to bathe and lubricate the eye, and finally pumped away through the drainage holes called puncta.
A healthy tear film consists of a delicate balance of three layers:
Inner Mucin (Mucus) Layer – Sticks the tears to the eye and stabilises the tear film.
Outer Lipid (Oily) Layer – Acts like a lid and reduces evaporation of the watery layer of tears.
Middle Aqueous (Watery) Layer – 98% water, absorbs the oxygen needed for the eye to breathe, helps fight infection and cleanses the front surface of the eye.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes dry eye?
The level of moisture in your eyes is normally maintained by balancing tear production and tear loss through drainage and evaporation. When this balance is not sustained, dry spots appear on the eye’s surface, which cause irritation.
What happens during your dry eye examination?
When you come to the dry eye clinic we’ll carefully examine the front of your eye, including the cornea, conjunctiva, lids and assess your tears. Digital images and videos of your eye will be stored for future comparison. Often we use a dye or stain to help highlight certain areas of the eye or to show the spread or flow of tears across the eye.
What treatments are available?
Depending on the causes, dry eye syndrome can be treated as a temporary problem or a lifelong disease. Either way, tears must be distributed efficiently, replaced or conserved in order to provide relief.
Effective tear distribution can be achieved in a number of ways, please see below for more details:
Dry eye syndrome is often caused or aggravated by the places you work and live. Simple changes to control environmental influences can help relieve your symptoms. Why not try making the following adjustments:
Increase atmospheric moisture, by placing a humidifier in the room or simply a bowl of water or plant near the VDU at work
Avoid direct air from the heating or air conditioning vents
Avoid sitting in line with a fire
If these simple steps do not help then call us for further assessment
Blinking is one of those things that we all take for granted. But if you have poorly developed blinking habits it’s a bit like a car’s windscreen wiper only going halfway across the screen – not very effective!
If you suffer from inefficient blinking patterns, it means your tears are not being evenly distributed across the surface of the eye, which can cause discomfort and poor vision. But don’t worry! We can help improve the quality of your blinking.
By regularly performing some simple blink exercises, the quality of your blink action will improve. After a period of time, good blinking becomes habitual and you’ll no longer need to practice.
Remember – If you wear contact lenses it’s particularly important that you blink properly in order to efficiently clean the lenses and prevent dry eye syndrome occurring.
As dry eye syndrome is caused by an imbalance of tears on the eye’s surface the most logical way to treat the problem is to artificially replace the tears. This is the most common treatment we use at the practice.
Generally, the drops we supply can be used throughout the day, depending upon the severity of the problem. For severe cases, non-medicated lubricated ointments or gels can also be used.
We supply several varieties of artificial tears and following your examination, we’ll advise you about the best type for your particular problem. Artificial tears are available without prescription and it’s worth noting that if one type fails to help another may work extremely well.
Artificial tears effectively relieve symptoms in the majority of cases.
If your dry eye problem persists, another treatment option, is to close the tear duct. This is called punctum plugging.
Punctum plugs allow you to retain your own natural tears or to use artificial tears more efficiently. Usually the lower puncta are occluded but in some cases it is beneficial to occlude both upper and lower.
Many of our patients report immediate relief from dry eye symptoms using punctum plugs.
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, if you’d like further information on the causes and treatment of dry eye syndrome, if you have concerns about your blinking patterns, or if you think you might benefit from punctal plugging and would like to discuss the options further, we’re only too happy to help then please call us to make an appointment at our Dry Eye Clinic. 045-484643