Dry eye syndrome (also known as keratoconjunctivitis) is a common condition that occurs when the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly; causing swollen, red and irritated eyes.
The symptoms of dry eye syndrome tend to be mild for most people, however more severe cases can be painful and lead to many complications. These symptoms usually affect both of the eyes and can include:
• Burning and/or red eyes
• Eyelids that are stuck together upon waking up
• Temporarily blurred vision which can be improved by blinking
• Feelings of dryness, soreness or grittiness which can worsen throughout the day
• Watering eyes – which occurs if the eye tries to relieve the irritation by producing more tears
You should see your high-street optician if you have mild but persistent symptoms of dry eye symptoms. We can examine your eyes to determine if your dry eye is caused by an underlying condition or was caused by external factors. In cases of severe dry eye, we can refer you to an eye specialist at your local hospital.
Mild symptoms can be relieved via the use of lubricating eye drops. We stock a range of different Hycosan eye drops both in-store and in our online shop – including Hycosan, Hycosan Fresh and Hycosan Extra. These eye drops are commonly known as artificial tears; as they are applied to the eye in order to replace the missing water in the tear film and thus helps to make your eyes feel less dry and reduce irritation.
So what causes dry eye syndrome? There are many external factors as well as underlying medical conditions that can interrupt the complex tear production process. Some common causes include:
• Wearing contact lenses
• Following laser eye surgery
• Getting older – as you produce fewer tears as you age
• Hot and/or windy climates
• High altitudes
• Working for extended periods of time using a computer, reading or writing
• Hormonal changes in women (i.e. menopause, pregnancy or while using a contraceptive pill)
• Side effects of certain medications (i.e. antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers and diuretics)
• Underlying medical conditions such as blepharitis, contact dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis
In addition to treatments such as lubricating eye drops, there are precautions you can take to reduce your risk of experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. These include eating a healthy diet that is rich in omega-3 and omega-7 (foods such as oily fish), using your computer or laptop correctly to minimise eye strain, using a humidifier to moisten the air and keeping your eyes and eyelids clean and protecting them from dry, windy, smoky or dusty environments.