Dry Eyes: What's happening?
Many people can feel the effects of dry eyes. It’s a common condition that's also associated with eye irritation, and can affect about 15-33 in 100 people.
People describe dry eyes as a sore, sensitive or even gritty sensation, and it can lead to blurred vision (which often improves upon blinking), or even pain in some instances.
Why does it occur though? What can be done? In this article we take a look at the symptoms, cause and treatment for dry eyes, so you can understand more about the condition.
The Symptoms of Dry Eyes
The symptoms of dry eyes may involve a range of sensations from mild discomfort to pain. However, the main symptoms are summarised below:
- As the name suggests, dry eyes can feel dry, but also gritty, sore, tired or irritated
- Appearance of redness
- Eyelids that stick together after a long period of being shut (such as sleeping)
- Temporarily blurred vision until blinking
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Discomfort when looking at bright lights
- Build-up of eye discharge (or “sleep”) after waking up
These are the main symptoms of dry eyes, but you may feel additional symptoms as well. As with any eye condition, we recommend speaking to a GP or an optician if you feel concerned about the symptoms you experience.
There are several causes of dry eyes, which can affect anyone. Dry eye occurs due to disruption of the eye’s protective tear film and such disruption to the lipid layer could be due to reasons such as:
- Ageing: we make fewer tears as we get older, so sometimes there may simply not be enough. In particular, post-menopausal women may notice the condition due to hormonal changes.
- Staring at a screen for prolonged periods of time is also a cause. We tend to blink less when doing so, resulting in less frequent distribution of tear film across our eyes. Try to break up long periods of work or mobile phone use if you can.
- Medication can be a cause. Check with your GP, or check the label, for potential dry eye side-effects of any medication you might currently be taking to see if this might be the cause.
- Illnesses such as Sjögren’s Syndrome, SLE or rheumatoid arthritis can play a part.
- Environmental factors such as pollution, low humidity, high heat or a consistent breeze may also be reasons.
- Wearing contact lenses also are a prevailing cause of dry eyes.
So, now that we know some possible causes, let's look at dealing with the symptoms to help refresh your eyes.
Optrex ActiMist (for Dry and Irritated Eyes)* and Optrex Rehydrating Eye Drops can help to help rehydrate your eyes. You might feel an immediate difference upon application, and with ActiMist, relief lasts for up to four hours.
Caring for your eyes is a mixture of maintaining a good eye care routine, and being aware of the conditions that can cause dry eye problems.
Keeping your eyes and eyelids clean and clear of potential irritants could help, as could frequent rest from staring at the computer screen or mobile use.
* Dry & irritated eyes due to disturbed lipid layer of the tear film causes approx. 80% of dry eye cases
 http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eye-syndrome/pages/introduction.aspx - Accessed 28/04/15