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 eye. It becomes more noticeable as we age, although it can affect you at any age. Several factors can contribute to the discomfort caused by dry eye, including extended use of digital devices, contact lens wear, diet, some health conditions and medications.
Counterintuitively, one of the more common symptoms of dry eye is watery eyes or excessive tearing. This happens when the tear film does not coat the front surface of the eye evenly. Dry spots form and irritation follows producing reflex tearing in response to the irritation. Typically, reflex tearing has insufficient quality of tears to adequately coat the eye and correct the problem. Dry eye treatments are then needed to correct the balance.
Common Symptoms of Dry Eye
- Excessive tearing or watery eyes
- Burning, stinging or irritated eyes
- Scratchy or foreign body sensation
- Frequent blinking
- Matting or caking of eyelashes (particularly after sleep)
- Eye redness
- Blurry or fluctuating vision (particularly noticeable when reading, using a computer, watching television or driving)
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye fatigue
- Reduced tolerance to wearing contact lenses
Dry Eye Assessment and Diagnosis
Before treatment for dry eyes, our optometrists will perform a dry eye screening assessment. This will involve an investigation of the key indicators of dry eye syndrome including tear film stability, signs of ocular inflammation, and functionality of the meibomian glands. The assessment will be performed with specialised equipment in accordance with regulated scientific protocols.
The results of this dry eye screening assessment will be discussed with you before commencing treatment. In the majority of cases, you will be able to see visual images of your meibomian glands and determine the extent to which they are active or dormant. This will help you to understand the cause of your dry eye problem.
Dry Eye Treatments and Management
There are a number of treatments for dry eye, ranging from simple home treatments to more advanced treatments carried out by our optometrists in the practice.
- Drops and ointments to alleviate the symptoms such as ‘artificial tears’
- Heating eye compress masks
- Dietary supplements such as Omega 3, flaxseed or fish oil supplements which may assist in reducing inflammation
Meibomian Gland Therapy
This therapy involves re-activating the glands in your lower eyelid if they have become blocked. It is conducted by the optometrist using special instruments.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL) Therapy
This therapy is applied with a specialised equipment (Lumenis M22 machine) by the optometrist. It is a drug free, drop free, light based treatment that targets chronic inflammation that is the root cause of dry eye syndrome.