Dry eye is a common complaint our patients have at Redgate Opticians.
Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain into the back of the nose. Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage is not in balance.
People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality.
Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including: age, gender, certain medications, medical conditions and environmental conditions such as exposure to smoke and dry climates. Other factors such as long-term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
How are dry eyes diagnosed?
At Redgate Opticians we can diagnose dry eye through our comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes, may include:
Patient history to determine the patient’s symptoms and to note any general health problems, medications or environmental factors that may be contributing to the dry eye problem.
External examination of the eye, including lid structure and blink dynamics.
Evaluation of the eyelids and cornea using bright light and magnification.
Measurement of the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. Special dyes may be put in the eyes to better observe tear flow and to highlight any changes to the outer surface of the eye caused by insufficient tears.
With the information obtained from testing, our optometrist can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options.
How are dry eyes treated?
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but we can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected.
The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
Adding tears: Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives, which can further irritate the eyes.
People with dry eyes that don’t respond to artificial tears alone will need to take additional steps to treat their dry eyes.
You can take the following steps to reduce symptoms of dry eyes:
- Blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
- Increase the humidity in the air at work and at home.
- Wear sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wraparound frames, to reduce exposure to drying winds and the sun.
- Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your optometrist if taking dietary supplements could help your dry eye problems.
- Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day.
If you at all concerned about your eye, you may book in with one of our specialist optometrists for a detailed evaluation.
Book online or Call 01494 258 690
Ahmed is an Optometrist with over 15 years experience. He is the senior Optometrist at Redgate Opticians in High Wycombe and is also currently working for the John Radcliffe Eye Clinic.