Dry eyes and how to treat them
Many people get dry eye. Dry eye syndrome is an uncomfortable condition caused by a lack of quality tears.Its much more common as we get older but it can happen to anyone.
It’s not usually serious but it is a miserable condition
Evaporative dry eye
Evaporative dry eye (EDE) is the most common form of dry eye syndrome. It’s usually caused by a blockage of the oil glands that line the margins of your eyelids. These tiny glands, called meibomian glands, release oil to cover your eye surface and prevent your tears from drying out.
Tears are a mixture of water, oil, and mucus. They coat the eye, making the surface smooth and protecting the eye from infection. The proper mixture of tears also helps you see clearly – its suprising how much a poor tear film can blur your vision. If your meibomian glands become blocked or inflamed, your tears won’t contain the right amount of oil to keep them from evaporating.
Dry eye can feel
- sensitive to light
- more watery than normal
You may be more likely to get dry eyes if:
- you’re over the age of 50
- you wear contact lenses
- you look at computer screens for a long time without a break
- you spend time in air conditioned or heated environments
- it’s windy, cold, dry or dusty
- you smoke or drink alcohol
- you take certain medicines (for example, some antidepressants or blood pressure drugs)
- you have a condition, such as blepharitis, Sjögren’s syndrome or lupus or arthritis
The good news is that there are things you can do!
Even if you have dry eye you can make yourself more comfortable. Visit your optician to confirm that you are suffering from dry eye and sort out the best care plan to get your eyes more comfortable. This care regime may include
- keeping your eyes lids clean by using eyelid wipes, scrubs or lotion such as Blephasol
- use ocular lubricants 4 times per day to help keep your eyes hydrated. At Jacksons we like the Hycosan range as they are non preserved and come in a range of viscosities to allow you to adjust your drops according to how dry your eyes are feeling.
- using a thicker ointment style lubricant overnight if your eyes are dry on waking such as Hycosan Night.
- Use warm compresses and massage of the eyelids twice a day to soothe your eyes and encourage your Mybomian glands to produce the oils required to keep your tears from evaporating. You can use a clean flannel dipped in warm water and then wrung out but much more convenient are Eye Bags which can be microwaved for a few seconds to generate the heat. At Jacksons we like the TheraPearl masks which can also go in the freezer to cool your eyes if they feel hot and burny.
- take regular breaks to rest your eyes when using a computer screen
- make sure your computer screen is at or slightly below eye level so you do not strain your eyes
- use a humidifier to stop the air getting dry
- get plenty of sleep to rest your eyes
- if you wear contact lenses, take them out when ever you can and wear glasses to rest your eyes
Try to avoid
- smoking or drinking too much alcohol
- spending too long in smoky, dry or dusty places
- spending too long in air conditioned or heated rooms – try to turn the air con off in your car when you can