Dry Eye Syndrome is a common condition affecting up to 30 % of the population and results from a breakdown in the natural layer of tears that coat the front of the eye. It often affects us as we become older, however, can affect anyone at any age. Several factors can contribute to the discomfort caused by dry eye including contact lens wear, extended use of digital devices, diet, some health conditions and medications.
Normally the tear film is stable and protects the front of the eye from exposure to damage. As the interface between the eye and air it also provides a significant amount of the focusing power of the eye.
Dry eye occurs when the tear film becomes unstable and does not adequately lubricate the eye. This may be due to the eye not producing enough tears or that the tear quality is poor leading to symptoms of irritation, and variable or unstable vision.
Paradoxically, one of the most common symptoms is watery eyes or excessive tearing. A patient may wonder why this is the case when their eyes are described as dry. When the tear film is unstable and not adequately coating the eye, the resultant irritation produces reflex tearing to help counteract the irritation. Typically, reflex tearing has insufficient quality of tears to adequately coat the eye and correct the problem. For this reason, dry eye syndrome could more appropriately be termed “Tear Film Dysfunction.”
Common symptoms of dry eye
- Excess tearing or watery eyes
- Burning, stinging or irritated eyes
- Scratchy or foreign-body sensation
- Frequent blinking
- Matting or caking of the eyelashes (usually worse upon waking)
- Eye Redness
- Blurry or fluctuating vision (made worse when reading, computer, watching television, driving, or playing video games)
- Eye fatigue
- Reduced tolerance to contact lenses
Dry Eye Assessment and Diagnosis
As part of our comprehensive eye examination a dry eye screening assessment is performed. If these results indicate a tear film dysfunction then further examination using a strict scientific protocol and highly specialised equipment is performed. This process involves investigation of the impact of dry eye syndrome on comfort and quality of life. It also investigates key indicators of dry eye syndrome including, tear film stability, signs of ocular inflammation and a thorough assessment of the ocular surface, eye lids and meibomian glands.
This allows our optometrist to determine underlying causes and the extent of your dry eye. From this a tailored treatment plan to meet your needs can be developed. As the cause of dry eye varies between individuals, a combination of treatment techniques may be used to achieve the best outcomes.
We have the most advanced dry eye equipment to determine what is the best treatment for each individual.
Dry Eye Treatments and Management
Depending on the causes, there are numerous treatments for dry eye syndrome / tear film dysfunction. Treatments may range from simple home treatments to more advanced in-office procedures and include:
- Artificial tears
- Longer acting agents such as artificial tear gel and ointments
- Tear conserving interventions such as punctal plugs
- Warm compresses
- Eyelash and eyelid scrubs
- Prescription medicines to reduce inflammation
- Dietary supplements such as Omega 3, flaxseed or fish oil supplements may also be useful in alleviating symptoms.
Meibomian Gland Therapy – This is a simple therapy to open the glands in your lower eyelid if they have become blocked. It is conducted using special instruments that are non-sharp and safe.
Intense Plused Light (IPL) – IPL is an advanced dry eye treatment. The Lumenis M22 IPL, provides a highly sophisticated, drug free, drop free, light-based treatment that targets chronic inflammation, which is the root cause of dry eye disease.