Dry Eye means that your eyes may not be making enough tears, that the tears which are being produced are of poor quality or that the tears that are produced evaporate away. The normal function of tears is to keep the surface of the eye wet and lubricated so any shortage of tears or reduction in their quality can produce a gritty, burning sensation of the eyes and can also disturb vision.
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What is Dry Eye?
The symptoms of Dry Eye syndrome may include:
Dryness, Tired eyes, Burning, stinging or itching, Red eyes, Gritty feeling, Excessive watering, Irritation from wind or smoke, Photophobia (sensitivity to light), Blurred or smeary vision, Contact lens discomfort
What are the causes of Dry Eye?
Dry Eye can be caused by a wide variety of everyday factors and include:
Ageing, Blepharitis, Dry environment and pollution, Computer use, Contact lens wear, LASIK surgery, Preservatives Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g. menopauseDry Eye may also be, symptomatic of general health, problems or disease, Certain types of medications
How is it treated?
In some cases symptoms can be relieved simply by altering the external influences. Environmental factors can be helped by making simple changes, for example: Avoidance of dehydrating environments such as air conditioning. If your job involves lots of computer work take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Protecting the eye from dehydrating influences such as a cold wind by wearing spectacles or sunglasses may also help.
Tears must be distributed efficiently, replaced or conserved in order to provide relief. As dry eye syndrome is caused by an imbalance of tears on the eye’s surface the most logical way to treat the problem is to artificially replace the tears and by so doing improve both quantity and quality of the tears. Surprisingly, having a watery eye can actually be caused by a lack of tears. This is because the tear film may have dry patches which the eye tries to correct by producing a flood of watery tears. Sometimes too much tear flow just needs better lubrication; think of a car engine with water in it, it will be wet but will not be well lubricated. There are a variety of artificial tears available and you will be advised the best option for your particular problem and how to use your treatment.
In severe cases of Dry Eye punctum plugging is available, where tiny little plugs are put into the tear ducts to prevent the tears draining away.