Doing Away with Dry Eyesadmin
Keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or as we know it, dry eye syndrome or dry eye disease, is estimated to affect one in three people over the age of 65, and has proven to be more prevalent in women than in men.
A common condition, dry eye occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears, or tears evaporate too quickly. This leads to the eye not being well lubricated, causing it to dry out and become swollen, red and irritated.
Fortunately, treatment for this condition is relatively simple and an EyeQ optometrist in Cape Town can assist in deciding the best course of action. In very severe cases a sufferer may be sent to an ophthalmologist, but generally dry eye can be treated using products such as Bausch and Lomb’s Liposic Eye Gel.
Dry Eye Symptoms
For most suffers dry eye is more of an irritation, but in severe cases it can be incredibly painful. The symptoms of this condition usually affect both eyes at the same time, but some sufferers may find that it affects one eye more than the other.
Typical dry eye symptoms include burning, red eyes, feelings of dryness or grittiness that become progressively worse throughout the day, or temporarily blurred vision that improves after you’ve blinked.
Some suffers also experience episodes where their eyes water constantly, as the body is trying to relieve the irritation by producing an excess of tears.
Causes Of Dry Eye
There are several causes of dry eye and these can be contributed to physiological, environmental and circumstantial factors. Often the exact cause is hard to pin point, as it may be a combination of factors.
Hormonal changes, especially in women can cause dry eye as these chemicals play an important role in the production of tears. Changes in hormonal levels during pregnancy, menopause and menstruation can cause a reduction in tear production, leading to dry eyes.
Ageing can also play a role in dry eye. As you age, you produce fewer tears and your eyelids become less effective at spreading them across the eye’s surface.
Environmental and circumstantial factors such as sun, wind, hot blowing air and a dry climate all cause tears to evaporate faster. Even working in a heated building can cause dry eye, as heat is very dehydrating.
Anyone who works in front of a computer or spends long periods reading or writing may also suffer, as we tend to blink less when concentrating. This means that tear film has more chance of evaporating and eyes dry out faster. If you spend hours reading or on the computer, it’s important that you take regular breaks and ensure your glasses’ prescription is of the right strength, so you don’t put added strain on your eyes.
Treating Dry Eye
Dry eye disease can usually be treated rather easily. Eye drops or eye gel such as Liposic can be used, along with anti-inflammatory medication. The worst-case scenario would be undergoing an operation to prevent tears from draining too easily, but this is not a common treatment.
You can also ensure you do your best to avoid dry eye by keeping your eyes lubricated, avoiding dry and dusty environments wherever possible, checking your glasses prescription is not straining your eyes, and eating a healthy diet rich in omega 7 and omega 3 fats.
If dry eye is plaguing you, chat to an EyeQ optometrist and find out how you can alleviate this irritating, uncomfortable condition.