Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a condition that develops when your eyes fail to produce enough tears or your tears dry out too quickly. It can be an uncomfortable and irritating condition, but luckily, there is treatment available.
What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
Dry eye symptoms can range from mild to severe; they are often associated with eyes feeling dry or sore and looking red. You might experience a burning sensation in your eyes and temporary blurred vision which improves when you blink. In the morning, your eyelids may also stick together.
If the eyes become irritated enough, watering eyes are another symptom that can occur, to relieve some of the soreness you are experiencing.
What causes dry eyes?
There are several different causes of dry eye syndrome, but fundamentally, it occurs when there is a disruption with your eyes’ tear production. Some causes of this are from wearing contact lenses, living in a hot climate, medication side effects, underlying health conditions and hormonal changes (women). Dry eyes are more common for women than men, and the chances of developing symptoms increase as you age; one in three people over 65 have issues with dry eyes.
Treatment for dry eyes
The treatment for dry eye syndrome involves either treating the underlying health condition that is causing you to have dry eyes or most commonly:
- Using lubricating eye drops
- Taking anti-inflammatory medication
- Treating underlying causes, such as blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
There are several different types of lubricating eye drops available to treat milder dry eye symptoms. Sometimes referred to as ‘artificial tears’, they can come in drop, gel or ointment form dependent on which is preferable to you and your requirements.
However, you must book an appointment with your ophthalmologist to determine how severe your symptoms of dry eye syndrome are, as some drops contain large amounts of preservatives that can be damaging if used too frequently. In cases where you need to use drops frequently throughout the day, you may need to use preservative-free drops.
Contact lenses for dry eyes
As mentioned, contact lenses can sometimes be a cause of dry eyes. However, contact lens manufacturers have developed contact lenses that are specifically created to reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
Wearing contact lenses that are made of breathable silicone hydrogel are best for sufferers of dry eye syndrome, and they provide optimum comfort throughout the day.
Ortho-k contact lenses are also an option as you only wear these at night; reshaping your cornea while you sleep to leave you with clear vision throughout the following day.
Suffering from dry eyes? Talk to us
If you are suffering from new or worsening dry eyes we recommend you book an appointment with your optometrist to determine how severe your dry eye syndrome is. Some drops contain large amounts of preservatives that can be damaging if used too frequently. In cases where you need to use drops frequently throughout the day, you may need to use preservative-free drops.