Dry eye

Many people suffer from symptoms of dry eye, including sore, gritty, and tired eyes. The eyes can feel fatigued, particularly after prolonged concentrated visual tasks, and may appear red.


Dry eye sometimes occurs in conjunction with other conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, acne rosacea, or hormonal imbalances. Medications can also contribute to dry eye, including oral contraceptives. Symptoms are usually worse in dry environments, such as air conditioning and central heating.


The function of tears is to keep the front of the eye moist. Healthy tears form a smooth, uninterrupted, film over the eye, which is replenished with every blink.


The three main components of tears are a mucus layer, a watery layer, and an oily layer. Paradoxically, a dry eye can cause the eyes to water excessively, but this produces the wrong chemical balance of tears. The oily component of tears is produced by Meibomian glands and problems with these glands is a common cause of dry eye.



Simple approaches to dry eye

There are some simple strategies that you can try yourself that may help to reduce the symptoms of dry eye. These are summarised below:


Are your glasses OK? If glasses are not of the correct strength then this can worsen the symptoms of dry eye. So, the first stage is to have a routine eye examination.


Give your eyes a rest. Take breaks while reading or working at a computer. Look away from the monitor or book to let your eyes focus on things that are far away and blink.


Environment. Fans or air conditioning vents can send a continuous air current across the surface of your eyes. Combine this with staring at a computer or TV, and it's a problem. If a dry eye only occurs during certain tasks, such as using a computer, then blinking exercises may help. Another of the Cole Martin Tregaskis Optometrists information leaflets explains how to do these.


Add water. If the air is dry at home or at work, use a humidifier. Drink plenty of water, too, to hydrate from the inside out.


Keep it clean. Steer clear of eye irritants, such as heavy pollution or smoke. Smokers are more likely to have dry eye.


Give dryness the drop. Lubricant drops called artificial tears work like natural tears to hydrate and restore the health of the eye's surface. Please click here for instructions on how to insert eye drops.


Try something fishy! Diet can also influence tear production and modifying diet or taking dietary supplements can improve dry eye symptoms. In particular, essential oils are important for healthy tears and fish oil and olive oil can be helpful.



Contact lens wearers who have dry eyes may add these strategies to their plan of action:


Replace lenses when you should. As contact lenses are worn they become covered with a biofilm. This contributes to lens drying, so more frequent replacement of lenses usually reduces dry eye.


Use only the contact lens solutions your optometrist recommends. Your optometrist knows which lens cleaning and disinfecting solutions are compatible with the type of lenses you are wearing.


Add moisture throughout the day. Rewetting drops can refresh your eyes throughout the day, even while you're wearing your contact lenses.


Clean lenses properly. Follow the instructions to care for your lenses. If you need a refresher course on caring for your lenses then we are happy to arrange this with an ocular hygienist. Please ask at reception.



What more can be done for dry eye?

If the suggestions listed in this leaflet are not helping enough, then donít despair as there are other more sophisticated approaches. Some of the optometrists at this practive have specialised in the management of dry eye and other tear film problems, including watery eye. Our reception can arrange an appointment for a Tear Film Special Assessment. You will be asked to complete a questionnaire which has been shown in several research studies to be useful for investigating symptoms associated with dry eye. At the Tear Film Special Assessment the front of the eye will be examined in great detail with a biomicroscope and dyes will be used to investigate the tear film. These dyes do not usually sting and will not interfere with your vision, so you will be able to drive straight after the appointment.


At the end of the Tear Film Special Assessment you will be given an explanation of the findings. In most cases, the optometrist will recommend treatments that you carry out at home. The Tear Film Special Assessment includes a session with an ocular hygienist who will teach you how to carry out any treatments that the optometrist recommends.


The fee for the Tear Film Special Assessment is £80, which includes the optometrist appointment and training session with an ocular hygienist. Sometimes, follow-up appointments are required and the fee for these is £55



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