Help and frequently asked questions

What is dry eye?

Answer: 

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where the eye is unable to maintain adequate lubrication, resulting in sore, dry eyes and blurred vision. This is often due to the eye not producing enough tears or because tears evaporate too fast. While more people aged over 60 suffer from dry eye, the condition affects all age groups. It is also more common in women than men.

What causes dry eye?

There are a number of reasons why you may develop dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), but various preventative measures and treatments exist.The primary causes of dry eye are:

  • Hot or windy climates
  • Blocked oil-producing glands
  • Natural ageing
  • Certain chronic diseases
  • Medication side effects
  • Hormonal changes

Do I have dry eye?

Common symptoms associated with the condition include dry, sore eyes and a foreign body sensation. Your eyes may also experience excessive watering or a burning feeling. However, these symptoms are present in other eye complaints, so you may want to visit an optometrist to confirm a diagnosis. You should also visit your optometrist, if you begin experiencing further eye-related issues, such as:

  • Notable vision deterioration
  • Pain
  • Extreme redness
  • Sensitivity to light

These symptoms could signal a more serious condition.

What treatments are available?

Dry eye treatment will depend on the underlying cause.Lubricating eye drops are commonly prescribed, while protective eye gear is advised if you are regularly exposed to hot or windy climates.If chronic diseases are causing dry eye, your optometrist can refer you to an appropriate specialist to treat the underlying condition. People hoping to prevent dry eye from getting worse should maintain proper eye hygiene, avoid eyestrain associated with using laptops and computers, and consider purchasing an air humidifier. In severe or recurring cases of dry eye, surgical options do exist. For example, punctal plugs can be inserted to prevent tears from draining.

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