What is ‘Dry Eye Disease’?

The tears that your eyes normally produce are necessary for clear vision and maintaining eye health. Dry eye disease occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears, or more commonly, produce tears that do not have the proper chemical composition.

What causes dry eye disease?

  • Normal ageing processes
  • Side effects from some medication e.g. anti-histamines, anti-depressants etc
  • Hormonal changes
  • Environmental conditions e.g. hot, windy climates, heated offices etc
  • Certain general health issues/ chronic diseases e.g. rheumatoid arthritis

What are the symptoms of dry eye disease?

  • Dry, sore eyes
  • Itchiness and scratchiness
  • The feeling of something being in your eye (foreign body sensation)
  • Burning, stinging, gritty feeling
  • Watering – this is a natural reflex the body produces to comfort a dry eye but is unusually ineffective in stopping the symptoms

How is dry eye disease diagnosed?

During an Anterior Eye Examination, your optometrist will ask you questions about your general health and medications and your home & work environments to determine any factors that may be causing dry eye symptoms. The practitioner will then perform specific dry eye tests using special diagnostic equipment which allow a detailed, highly magnified view of the anterior parts of the eye. This is painless and will enable the optometrist to evaluate the quality, quantity and distribution of tears as well as the health of the eye lids, tear ducts, conjunctiva and cornea of your eyes and so be able to advise a course of treatment.

How can dry eye disease be treated?

Dry eye cannot be “cured”, but your eyes’ sensitivity can be managed so that the eyes remain healthy. The most frequent treatment is the use of artificial tears or tear substitutes. Unpreserved solutions are recommended to avoid further irritation of an already sensitised eye. For more severe cases, gel or ointment may be advised, especially of night time use. In some cases, small plugs may be inserted in the corner of eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears.

In many cases of dry eye there are also changes to the lid and gland structure (blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction) and this should be treated at the same time.

For a more structured and successful way to treat the condition, we recommend booking in for our Comfort Eyes Programme.

Will dry eye disease harm my eyes?

If dry eye is left untreated, it can harm your eyes. Excessive dry eye can damage tissues and possibly scar the cornea leading to impaired vision.

Dry eye can make contact lens wear more difficult due to increased irritation and poses a greater risk of eye infection.

To keep dry eye symptoms in check, follow your optometrist’s instructions carefully and if you suffer with any increase in dryness or redness that isn’t relieved by the prescribed treatment then book in for a follow up appointment.

Customer Reviews:

I am very pleased with the friendly and professional service at Hammond Opticians. It was easy to arrange an appointment where an ongoing problem with dry eyes was diagnosed and an appropriate treatment plan was tailored to me.
All the staff are friendly and professional and the service and aftercare is very reassuring.
There is a good range of products and treatments for my blepharitis and lid problems and each step was fully explained and the staff assured me that I could call on them with any questions I had.