About Dry Eyes


What is Dry Eye ?

Dry Eye, also referred to as Dry Eye Syndrome or Dry Eye Disease or Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is a common condition that affects people of all age groups. In the UK it estimated that 5-30% people are affected, with the numbers increasing yearly, due to lifestyle factors such as increased use of tablets, computers , phones and ageing.

In Dry Eye Syndrome, the front surface of the eye (Ocular Surface) becomes inflamed, irritated and damaged due to factors such as reduced tear production or abnormal tears.  The eyes feel dry and gritty. 

Dry Eye is now recognised as an inflammatory disorder and is referred to and treated as Ocular Surface Disease.


What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye ?

People with Dry Eye may not have any symptoms at all. However most people will have one or more symptoms that include eyes being:

gritty - dry - scratchy -  itchy - burning - sore - stinging - red - watery -blurry, tired - irritable - light sensitive - sticky on waking - excessive crusting - stringy discharge  - feeling like they have something in them (foreign body sensation)


How Does Dry Eye Affect People ?

Dry eye is not usually a sight threatening condition but it does affect people’s comfort and vision. Irritation and or pain impacts on everyday quality of life and hampers enjoyment of activities. It can prevent people wearing contact lenses, make them unsuitable for laser eye surgery, make the eyes look red and tired, cause people to wake up during the night with pain and prevent them from undertaking certain activities.

In severe  cases it can lead to ulceration, thinning or scarring of the cornea, and infections.


What Causes Dry Eye ?

The cause of most dry eye is usually multi-factorial ie there is usually more than one cause.  

Most dry eye is due to a combination of things such as:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Tablet medication side effects
  • Poor blinking
  • Changes in eyelid structure and functioning
  • Eye drop side effects eg from glaucoma drops
  • Environmental factors such as heat/wind,  air conditioning/central heating
  • Lifestyle factors such as prolonged close or computer work (referred to as Computer Vision Syndrome)
  • Smoking
  • Diet
  • Underlying health conditions eg autoimmune disorders such as Sjogrens Syndrome or Graves Disease
  • Blepharitis (Eyelid inflammation)
  • Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (Eyelid Oil Gland Inflammation)

Dry Eye can also occur as a result of laser refractive eye surgery or due to scarring or conditions that result in an irregular surface such as pterygium and pingueculae.


What is the Treatment ?

The treatment for Dry Eye depends on the type of Dry Eye present and the underlying cause.

Our treatment options include some or all of the following:

  • Lid Hygiene
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Oral Tetracyclines
  • Lubricating drops
  • Punctal Occlusion (Blocking the Tear Drainage ducts)
  • Warm Compresses
  • Improving / changing causative Environmental factors
  • Steroid Eye Drops: usually in more severe cases
  • Scleral Contact Lenses: in severe or non-responsive cases
  • A review / change of medications that may be causing side effects