DRY eye syndrome is a chronic condition due to lack of tear production.
Poor lubrication makes the components of the eye red and irritated. The sufferer will blink excessively and may notice a stringy mucus discharge in the corners of the eye.
Often there is a feeling that something is in the eye and the patient can become sensitive to bright light and vision may deteriorate. This will impact the patient’s quality of life.
If not treated, it can lead to inflammation of the cornea, causing scaring and possible blindness.
Getting older is the main cause. Other factors could be: wearing contact lenses, staring at a computer screen for long periods, air conditioned or heated rooms, and windy, cold dry or dusty environments.
Certain medical conditions can also lead to dry eyes, such as women going through the menopause, lupus, blepharitis as well as anything that could cause dehydration. Diabetics are often encouraged to have regular eye checks.
If you are concerned, I would suggest discussing it with a healthcare professional.
Medication can also lead to dry eyes such as antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medication and medicines that ease stomach cramps. Your pharmacist can offer more information about medication side effects.
There are a wide range of products available to treat dry eyes that can be bought from a pharmacy or issued on a prescription. These can be eye drops, gels or ointments.
Some of the newer ones are preservative free and may be suitable with contact lenses. Your optician or pharmacist can discuss the most appropriate.
Also, I recommend using goggles if swimming and try to use a humidifier if the air is too dry (avoid allergens, smoke and pollution).
Minimise alcohol intake and strong coffee as they can cause dehydration. Drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep.
Rest the eyes as much as possible by taking breaks from computer screens and leaving contact lenses out.
• Next month, I’m going to do my final article on the eyes by discussing Glaucoma.