Dry eye syndrome, otherwise known as dry eye disease, is a very common condition which occurs when your body is unable to make enough tears, or if the tears evaporate too quickly. As the surface of the eye dries out, the eyes can quickly become red, inflamed and very irritable. In our latest blog, we will take a closer look at dry eye syndrome, the causes and how you can take care of your eyes to prevent and treat this uncomfortable condition.
What causes dry eye syndrome?
Tears are an essential component of healthy eyes as they help to maintain moisture, protect your eyes from infections and remove debris from the surface of your eyes to maintain great vision. Often, the underlying cause is a blocked duct or an inflammation of the oil glands which prevents good quality tears from reaching the surface of the eye as they should.
Healthy tears contain three layers, the mucin layer, the aqueous layer, and the lipid later, which are produced in a healthy balance to ensure tears lubricate, stick to the eye, and do not evaporate too quickly. A blockage in the ducts or glands can create an imbalance in these layers, and many sufferers of dry eye syndrome are surprised to find there is an issue with their tear production, as they may be producing a vast amount of tears.
Who is most likely to suffer from dry eyes and what are the symptoms?
Although anyone can develop dry eye syndrome, it is more common in women and those who are aged over 60. The most common causes of dry eyes are blockages within the glands which supply tears, however there are various factors which can increase an individual’s risk of developing issues, including the following:
- Wearing contact lenses
- Working in an environment with air conditioning
- Being in a windy or hot environment for a long period of time
- Computer eye strain
- Conditions such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain eye surgeries
- A side effect of medications
- A high alcohol intake
- Hormonal changes
What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
The symptoms can vary significantly, with individuals reporting everything from a slight irritation to severe pain. In our experience, the most common symptoms which you should be on the lookout for include:
- Blurred vision which is either temporary or permanent
- A burning sensation in your eyes
- A feeling that something is inside your eyelids
- A gritty or itchy feeling that is at its worst in the mornings
- Painful and irritable eyes
- Redness and swelling of the white of your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Excessive watering
What should I do if I am suffering from dry eyes?
If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact your local Realeyes optometrist or your GP as soon as possible to rule out serious complications. Mild cases can be treated easily with a heated eye mask applied twice a day to unblock the glands. In addition, cleaning and massaging your eyelids daily will help to remove debris, blockages, oil, and bacteria. There are also various eye drops available which will ease the symptoms; however, you should always try to solve the cause of the issue first.
As your local team of opticians, we are here to support your eye health and if you are suffering from dry eyes, we will create a plan to help you overcome this uncomfortable condition.
To find out more about how we can protect your eyes, book an appointment with your local branch today.