Dry eye occurs when the eyes do not produce tears efficiently, are not of the correct consistency and evaporate too quickly.
Inflammation of the surface of the eye may occur along with dry eye. This condition can lead to pain, ulcers, or scars on the cornea, and some loss of vision. Thankfully, permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon. Our optometrist will tailor a treatment plan for you based on your dry eye needs.
Dry eye is a chronic condition affecting about one-third of Australian adults and half of those aged over 50.
Normally, a film of tears covers the surface of the eye to keep it moist, and meibomian glands in the eyelids secrete oils to slow evaporation of these tears. Dry eye results if there is an insufficient supply of tears or if the tears evaporate too quickly.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), where the glands don’t function properly either due to blockage or oil deficiency, is a leading cause of dry eye.
Sufferers have difficulty reading, using a computer, watching TV and driving. In its most severe form, dry eye can be accompanied by inflammation of the eye surface and sleep disturbances. If left untreated, some people may develop corneal ulcers, corneal scars and, rarely, even loss of vision.
Dry eye is commonly confused with other conditions, in particular allergies. It can be tricky to diagnose because symptoms vary, are subjective and can be described in many different ways.
How to lessen symptoms
Dry eye disease can escalate to be very uncomfortable, or may cause pain if it is left to become severe, so if you experience these symptoms, it is important to get them assessed by an optometrist to ensure that your eye condition is well managed.
There are ways to prevent your dry eyes symptoms. For instance:
- Prevent air blowing in your eyes. Be aware of not placing hair dryers, heaters, air conditioners or fans in the direction of your eyes.
- Take breaks when performing long tasks. Make sure to take periodic eye breaks and close your eyes for a few minutes or blink repetitively for some seconds to assist spreading your tears equally over your eyes.
- Place your computer screen beneath eye level. By doing so you won’t open your eyes as wide.
- Use eyedrops regularly.