Dry Eye Clinic
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
Symptoms can vary considerably but the most common symptoms include:
Foreign body sensation/feels like something is in the eyes
Eyes feel ‘gritty’ – often worse in the mornings
Burning sensation in eyes
Redness of the whites of the eyes
Treatment & FAQs
Who gets Dry Eye Syndrome?
It is more common in women than men and is found most commonly in the over 60s age group. However, it can happen at any age.
Why do the eyes sometimes water excessively? How can the eyes be dry if they are watering all the time?
This a paradox which is explained as follows: Blinking spreads a tear film over the surface of the eye – the eyelids do the opposite to what a windscreen wiper does on a car. The eyelids spread a thin film of tears over the front of the eye. When there are not enough tears, or if the quality of tears is poor, the surface of the eye becomes dry, and this causes inflammation.
Special receptors on the surface of the eye are then stimulated by this inflammation, which causes a ‘reflex tear production’. This leads to the main tear glands to literally ‘switch the tap on’ in an attempt to wet the dry surface. The result is often the production of excessive watery tears (as opposed to oily tears), which results in watering of the eyes
What causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Ageing over 60’s are the commonest group to suffer
Hot, dry or windy climates – causes evaporation of tears
Inflammatory diseases – e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis affecting joints, is associated with a higher risk of dry eyes.
Side effects from medications – e.g. The oral contraceptive pill
Does Dry Eye Syndrome cause loss of vision?
Normally dry eyes cause no visual deterioration. However, in severe cases where the eye is allowed to desiccate, the cornea may scar and this could cause reduced vision.
How is Dry Eye Syndrome treated?
There is no absolute ‘cure’ for dry eye syndrome. However, most people can get significant relief from symptoms using a variety of treatments and measures.
Lid Margin Hygiene
If the underlying cause is blepharitis/lid margin disease, then treating this can often improve the ocular surface and reduce symptoms.
This can be managed by applying a hot compress or by the use of specially formulated eyelid margin wipes Blephaclean/Ocusoft. In more severe cases, Blephex treatments can be beneficial.
Regular lubrication in the form of gels or drops can help keep the surface of the eyes wet, and thus reduce symptoms. Often, this is combined with lid margin hygiene.
There is a wide range of eye drops available – consult our optometrist for advice on which one to use.
Tear duct surgery
When there is severe dry eye with reduction in tear production, blocking the drainage of tears down the tear ducts can help keep the tears that are produced on the surface of the eye.
Temporary plugs are normally inserted first. In some cases, permanent closure with surgical cautery may be used.
Diet omega-3 oils and flaxseed oil in the diet may help improve tear quality.
When concentrating (e.g. using a computer or driving), we can blink up to 5 times less often, leading to increased tear evaporation. Remembering to blink more often can help keep the eye surface wet.
Moist air leads to less evaporation of tears. Avoiding air-conditioned environments and direct heat (e.g. an open fire or heat from a cooker) can help for the same reason.