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Google searches for “dry eye” have more than doubled over the past ten years.

The ever-increasing reliance on mobile and computer screens has seen the number of people complaining of dry eye increase.

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What is Dry Eye?

"Dry Eye Syndrome" also known as "Dry Eyes" is a common condition where your eyes don't produce enough tears, or the tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to your eyes drying out or becoming irritated.

Common symptoms that people with Dry Eye have are;

  • Watery Eyes
  • Gritty Feeling
  • Red Inflammation
  • Mucus Around Eyes

Dry eyes can not only be frustrating, but they are also uncomfortable and sometimes even quite painful.

What Can Trigger Dry Eyes?

Identifying the source of your discomfort is essential for properly treating your eye condition​. Age and genetics can cause dry eyes, but also your environment, lifestyle, and medications can contribute to dryness. Certain eye health issues can also cause you to have insufficient tears for good eye health.

Optometrists are increasingly looking for and treating digital eye strain in children.

About 80 per cent of children report digital eye strain when using digital devices, and this can cause dry eye.

Optometrists are also encouraging those who spend a lot of time in front of screens to blink more in an effort to help combat digitally related dry eye problems.  The type of digital device you use, the type of screen you use, viewing distances, how many hours a day you use digital devices and whether you are using a multi-screen system can all impact on dry eye symptoms.

Interestingly concurrent screen use is associated with a higher incidence of digital eye strain symptoms.

Meibomian Glands

These glands produce oil, except if they are not functioning properly. Of those people with dry eye, 86 per cent have evaporative dry eye, so regenerating these glands to produce healthy oils is important.

Seasonal Changes

Seasonal changes can wreak havoc on our eyes, at certain times of the you’re your eyes are exposed to increased amounts of pollen and allergens in the air. This can trigger an immune response in certain people, leading to inflammation and dry eyes. This can cause discomfort, tearing, and even an inability to open or close your eyes due to sensitivity.

Your optometrist can show you blinking exercises, as this improves dry eye symptoms. You need to feel your eyelids close completely, because if they don’t close, the healthy oils (lipids) will not be expressed. It has been found that if you practice lid-blinking exercises your Dry Eye symptoms can improve.

Hormonal Changes

Women have always faced unique challenges due to changing hormones. Unfortunately, this often includes experiencing dry eyes due to hormonal fluctuations related to pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and birth control medication. The culprits behind the dryness are believed to be changes in hormone levels, such as estrogen and progesterone, which can affect the oil glands in the eyes.

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Treatments

Eye drops bought over the counter don’t treat the problem, they only mask the problem.

There are many advances that have been made in the treatment of Dry Eye, changes to your diet, living conditions, where you sit and work, your hobbies and oral supplements such as fish oil and Omega-3s can all help in the treatment and reduce your symptoms.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment stimulates the meibomian glands leading them to return to normal function, usually within a few hours of the treatment. Usually three treatments provide a marked improvement,  but you may need a repeat course later if your symptoms return.