What is dry eye?
Dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears are not of the correct consistency. Inflammation of the surface of the eye is often associated with dry eye.
Symptoms typically experienced by sufferers of dry eye are:
- Stinging or burning of the eye
- A sandy or gritty feeling
- Pain and redness of the eye
- Episodes of blurred vision
- Decreased tolerance of reading
- Working on the computer, or
- Similar tasks that require sustained visual attention.
If left untreated, this condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and potentially some loss of vision.
What causes Dry Eyes?
A number of factors contribute to dry eyes, this can include:
- Age: As we age, the flow and production of tears reduces. This coupled with changes in the composition of our tears can increase our risk and contribute to dry eye symptoms.
- Gender: Our hormones can play a part in affecting our eyes and it has been found that females tend to be at high risk of developing dry eyes.
- Environment: Studies have found that environments of low humidity (ie. air conditioning & air travel) and high wind velocity (ie. windy days) can contribute to dry eyes.
- Medications: Some medications can include side effects that can cause dry eyes. For example: antihistamines, beta blockers & diuretics. Treatment for eye conditions using long term eye drops can also contribute to dry eye symptoms.
- Screen Use: Computer/tablet/phones/laptops are now a part of daily life, however, it has been demonstrated clinically that when we use our screens we blink less and this can contribute to dry eye.
- Ocular Conditions: Other eye conditions like blepharitis can contribute to dry eye symptoms.
- Systemic Conditions: Certain systemic conditions can cause dry eyes. For example: diabetics may be more prone to developing dry eyes.
- Contact Lens Use: Chronic contact lens use can reduce the stability of the tear layer which can cause dry eyes.
- Refractive Surgery: Refractive surgery can exacerbate pre-existing dry eyes or trigger borderline dry eye patients. It is important that prior to refractive surgery your dry eyes in managed so as to reduce post-operative symptoms.