Dry Eye Syndrome

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Dry Eye Syndrome

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

A healthy eye is hydrated by a film of tears. However, those who suffer from dry eye syndrome do not produce enough quality tears to keep the surface of the eye sufficiently moist throughout the day. The result is an irritated eye that may affect vision, and if left untreated, can cause damage to the cornea.

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eyes are caused by an inability to produce sufficient and healthy tears to keep eyes hydrated. For some, dry eyes are caused by increased tear evaporation and an imbalance in the makeup of their tears.

Dry Eye

What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome?

It may sound like a contradiction but those with dry eye syndrome may notice their eyes water more than normal. This is their eyes’ response to the irritation caused by the condition. Another common symptom is the inability to keep the eyes open for an extended period of time due to soreness and a stinging sensation, which may be worsened with prolonged reading or watching television.

Usually affecting both eyes, other common symptoms to look out for include:

  • Stinging or burning sensations in your eyes
  • Mucus in or around your eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Redness of the eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue

If these symptoms begin to interfere with your daily routine or are present to the point of causing pain, we recommend you to book an appointment with a LASERSIGHT Consultant Optometrist.

How will a LASERSIGHT Doctor Diagnose Dry Eye Syndrome?

Your LASERSIGHT doctor will administer a simple, non-invasive eye examination. This includes:

  • External eye examination: focusing on the eyelids and cornea, your eye care professional uses a slit lamp microscope to identify how long it takes your tears to evaporate.
  • Schimer Test: involves using blotting paper strips under the lower eyelids to gauge the strength of your tear production.
  • Determining the Quality of Your Tears: your eye care professional will also use specialised methods, which may include different dyes to stain the cornea, in order to measure the time it takes for your tears to evaporate.

What are the Risk Factors of Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Increased age. Tear production tends to diminish as you get older. Dry eyes are common in people over 50.
  • More common in women, especially if they experience hormonal changes due to pregnancy, using birth control pills or menopause.
  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Workplaces that operate in low humidity or have poor air quality
  • Prolonged periods of time staring at a computer or device
  • A diet that is low in vitamin A or low in omega-3 fatty acids.

How do I Prevent the Onset of Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Use artificial tears regularly. Eye drops to keep your eyes well-lubricated.
  • Add moisture to the air. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.
  • Sunglasses or protective eyewear. To protect your eyes from sunlight and dry wind.
  • Take eye breaks during long tasks. If you're reading or doing another task that requires visual concentration, close your eyes for a few minutes. Or blink repeatedly for a few seconds to help spread your tears evenly over your eyes.
  • Position your computer screen below eye level. Position your computer screen below eye level so that you won't open your eyes as wide.
  • Stop smoking and avoid smoke.

What are the Long Term Implications of Dry Eye Syndrome?

  • Eye infections. Your tears protect the surface of your eyes from infection. Without adequate tears, you may have an increased risk of eye infection.
  • Damage to the surface of your eyes. If left untreated, severe dry eyes may lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcer and vision problems.
  • Decreased quality of life. Dry eyes can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading.

What are the Treatment Options for Dry Eye Syndrome?

For the majority of patients, dry eye syndrome can be managed as an ongoing condition with over-the-counter eye drops. If your symptoms are more persistent you may find anti-inflammatory prescription medicine that’s helpful in decreasing cornea damage. They may also help ease symptoms and increase basic tear production.

Your treatment will depend on individual circumstances however, the following methods for treating dry eye syndrome are common.

  • Light therapy
  • Eye drops to control cornea inflammation
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • The use of artificial tears throughout the day
  • Tear stimulating medication

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Cornea?

The cornea is the clear, rounded outer surface of your eye that protects the Iris, the coloured part of the eye. The cornea protects the rest of your eye from dust, germs and other irritants. It does not receive protection via blood vessels, like the rest of your body, and instead relies on nourishment and hydration from tears.

What should I prepare before visiting my Lasik specialist?

Make note of all the symptoms you are experiencing, even if they seem unrelated to your eyes. This includes any recent life changes and all medications and supplements you are using.

Does long term TV or computer usage really cause dry eye?

The rate of blinking when viewing screens decreases rapidly, causing the tear film to evaporate. Studies show that computer users blink around 7 times per minute, compared to the normal rate of 22 times per minute. This leads to increased evaporation and eye strain which can bring on dry eye syndrome. Those who require heavy screen time due to work should take short breaks every 20 minutes to reduce stress. Another option is to position the monitor below eye level which allows the eyelid to cover more of the eyes surface when blinking.

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