Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when your eyes do not make enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly^1^. This can happen due to a variety of factors and, in many cases, it can be caused by a number of factors happening at the same time. Once diagnosed, there are various ways to manage the condition.
Dry eye can be caused by many different factors, as shown in the flow chart below^1-2^.
The condition can lead to discomfort, visual disturbance and tear film instability. Healthy tears are needed not only to moisten the eye’s surface, but also to provide protection by flushing away debris and bacteria^3^. Common reasons why the eyes tend to dry relate to hormonal changes (e.g. pregnancy or menopause); environmental conditions such as air conditioning^4^ or using digital devices for prolonged periods; diet (low levels of omega-3 rich foods^4^); and medications like antihistamines or antidepressants.
Regardless of the cause, the signs and symptoms are similar, including^2^:
• Feeling of a foreign body in the eye
• Blurry vision
• Excessive tearing or watery eyes
• Difficulty tolerating activities that require sustained visual concentration e.g. reading, working on the computer
• Uncomfortable contact lenses
• Tired eyes
There is a wide range of treatment options available that can help you manage symptoms, from mild to severe dry eye, including^2^:
• Self-help exercises and environmental adjustments (e.g. blink exercises, AC control, drinking more water)
• Eye lubricants, ointments or gels
• Dietary changes
• Improving eyelid hygiene
• Punctal plugs
• Anti-inflammatory medication
*Please consult your doctor
1. NHS. Dry Eye Syndrome. (2016) Available at: [http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/dry-eye-syndrome/Pages/introduction.aspx]
2. National Eye Institute. Facts About Dry Eye. (2013) Available at: [https://nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye]
3. The College of Optometrists. How your eyes work. Available at: [http://lookafteryoureyes.org/how-your-eyes-work/about-your-eyes/tears/]
4. The Ocular Surface. Dry Eye Workshop Report. (2007), p. 173, 79
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