In this Health Hub article, we explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments of dry eye.
Dry Eye, medically referred to as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, is a condition whereby the eye does not produce enough tears or the tears that are produced evaporate too quickly.
Facts & Figures
- It is more common in women than men.
1 in 13 people over the age of 50 experience dry eye.
Signs & Symptoms of Dry Eye
Dry eye usually affects both eyes. Symptoms include:
- feeling of grittiness and soreness
- gets worse as the day goes on
- eyes may water excessively
- eyelids feel sticky in the morning
If left untreated it can lead to scarring of the cornea and conjunctivitis.
What Causes Dry Eye?
- Environment e.g. hot or windy climates
- Medications e.g. antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers, diuretics
- Hormonal changes
- Wearing contacts
- Occupation e.g jobs which involve visual concentration such as working with computers, reading, and writing, air conditioning
Medical Conditions e.g. Blepharitis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis
Your GP should be able to diagnose you with dry eye based on a full medical history and your symptoms. If the GP is concerned that there is an underlying cause for the symptoms of dry eye they may refer you to an ophthalmologist for further investigation.
Treatments For Dry Eye
While there is no cure for dry eye, eye lubricants are used regularly to help alleviate symptoms. Some lubricants which are available over the counter include:
Common Side Effects
Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to multi-dose vial eye drops, these are the most common drops you buy in a pharmacy and come in a bottle The reaction is usually due to the preservative used in multi-dose eye drops. Changing to preservative-free eye drops, which come as individual single-dose vials, can prevent this side effect.
Advice From The Pharmacist
- Keep eye clean
- Protect your eyes from wind, hot air, and smoke
- Adjust your computer in work to reduce strain
- Eye drops need to be used regularly i.e. four times a day
- Using an eye ointment at night can reduce sticky eyes in the morning
- Single-dose units do not contain preservatives which can cause irritation in some patients
- Multi-dose units should only be used for a maximum of 28 days from the day they are opened
- How to apply eye drops correctly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYl9bqh-gAE