Dry Eye – What it is, How it’s Caused, and Available Treatments

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes do not make enough tears or your tears evaporate too quickly.

This can lead to your eyes becoming dry, gritty and inflamed. Environmental factors such as sun, wind, air conditioning and smoke can have a drying effect on your eyes, causing the tears to evaporate more quickly.

There is some evidence that eating a diet that is high in omega-3 fats can help prevent dry eye syndrome.

Did you know there are 'Two Kinds' of Tears?

Your eye needs to stay lubricated to avoid irritation and fight infection.  To do this it creates two kinds of tears.  They are:

Constant Tears:  These tears are constantly produced by your eye and contain natural antibiotics.  They help fight infection and keep your eye lubricated.

Reflex Tears:  These tears are produced in response to emotion, injury or irritation.  They wash the surface of our eyes when needed.

To avoid Dry Eye we need a balance of the two types of tears.  If we suffer from an eye condition such as Dry Eye then there is something wrong with the balance of our tear production.

Causes of Dry Eye

Sadly as we get older our eyes produce fewer tears.  This inevitably brings on Dry Eye as there are not enough tears to remove irritations and keep our eyes lubricated.  Pregnant women and post menopausal women are particularly susceptible to Dry Eye.  Men to can experience symptoms in old age.

There are plenty of environments which are not the best for our eyes.  Wind, sun, and dry weather, and working in doors where dehumidifiers, fans and air conditioning is present.

Can take its toll, as well as dust, pollen, sand, working at height, and smoke all takes their toll and can cause Dry Eye.

When you wear contact lenses it is not uncommon to experience pain, infection, protein deposit build up, and irritation.  Dry Eye is the main reason behind contact lens discomfort.

There are plenty of medications which can cause the symptoms of Dry Eye.  These include beta – blockers, pain relievers, alcohol, anti – depressants, antihistamines, and decongestants.

Surgical procedures on our eyes can cause an imbalance between Reflex and Constant tear production.  This is normally temporary.

Suffers from this disease that notices their eyes are dry and lips are sore are suffering with Sjogren’s syndrome.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

There are plenty of symptoms to indicate you are suffering with dry eye.  These include constant itching, stinging and burning sensations, eye lids stuck together when you wake up, redness, tiredness, light sensitivity, sties and lid infections, gritty and dry sensation in your eyes, watery eyes, mucous discharge, wind and smoke irritation, contact lens discomfort, and sensitivity to eye drops and contact lens solution.

Dry Eye Treatments

In essence there are two treatments to the Dry Eye condition. Eye drops known as artificial tears, and using a Punctum Plug. At Visioncare we specialise in dry eye treatments and offer a procedure in which a “punctum plug” is placed in the tiny hole through which the tears drain in order to partially block it and retain the tears in the eye for longer.

Artificial Tears

The idea behind this treatment is to apply a solution to lubricate your eye, thereby offsetting your lack of natural tear production.  It is important to use a preservative free artificial tear solution, as preservatives have been shown to damage your cornea.

Artificial tears offer a good short term solution.  There is an alternative treatment however which retains your natural tears.

Punctum Plug

Punctum Plugs are inserted into your punctal canal.  This stops your tears from draining away and so your eye stays lubricated.  They can be temporary for assessment purposes or used over the longer term.  It is a non surgical procedure which can be performed by a doctor.