Why dry eyes occur and what can be done to reduce symptoms

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
  • Build-up of eye discharge or mucus 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.


The Cause

There are several causes of dry eyes, which can affect anyone. Dry eye occurs due to disruption of the eye’s protective lipid layer of the 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 (systematic lupus erythematosus) or rheumatoid arthritis can increase the risk of dry eye syndrome.
  • 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.


Treating dry eye

So, now that we know some possible causes, let's look at dealing with the symptoms to help relieve dry eyes.

Optrex Intensive eye drops help to hydrate, lubricate and sooth dry eyes, providing an effective relief from dry eye symptoms.


General Care

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.