Dry eye disease

Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes don't make enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to the eyes drying out and becoming red, swollen and irritated.


What are the symptoms of dry eye disease?

The symptoms of dry eye are mild for most people, although more severe cases can be painful.


Symptoms usually affect both eyes and often include:

  • Feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse throughout the day

  • Burning and red eyes

  • Eyelids that stick together when you wake up

  • Temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink


Some people may also have episodes of watering eyes, which can occur if the eye tries to relieve the irritation by producing more tears.


What should you do?

If you have persistent but mild symptoms of dry eye syndrome our optometrists can advise and often treat you.  Sometimes we may refer you to an eye specialist.


What causes dry eye?

Dry eye syndrome can occur when the complex tear production process is disrupted in some way. There are many different reasons why this can happen, although a single identifiable cause often can't be found.

Common causes include:

  • Being in a hot or windy environment

  • Wearing contact lenses

  • Certain underlying medical conditions, such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)

  • Side effects of certain medications 

  • Hormonal changes in women – such as during the menopause, pregnancy, or while using hormonal contraception


Who does dry eye affect?

Dry eye can affect people of any age, but your chances of developing dry eye increase as you get older. It's estimated that up to one in every three people over the age of 65 will experience problems with dry eyes. Dry eye is more common in women than men.


How is dry eye syndrome treated?

Dry eye isn't usually a serious condition. Treatments include:

  • Eye drops to lubricate the eyes

  • Medications to reduce any inflammation

  • Surgery to prevent tears from draining away easily


If dry eye syndrome is caused by an underlying condition, treating this condition usually helps to relieve the symptoms.​


Caring for your eyes

As well as medical treatments, there are some things you can do yourself to help prevent dry eye syndrome or reduce the symptoms. Our optometrists will be happy to advise you. These include:

  • Keeping your eyes and eyelids clean and protecting them from dusty, smoky, windy and dry environments

  • Using your computer or laptop correctly to avoid eye strain

  • Using a humidifier to moisten the air

  • Eating a healthy diet that includes omega-3 and omega-7 fats