What is it?
Dry eyes is a chronic condition whereby your eyes don't produce enough tears or where your tears evaporate too quickly. It affects both eyes but can be more pronounced in one eye. Symptoms range from those that occur occasionally to those that cause continuous problems. These include blurred vision, redness, irritation, discharge and tired eyes. In worst cases it can cause permanent damage to the front of your eyes and be very painful.
Are you at risk?
It is more common in people over 65. Your eyes become less effective at spreading your tears when you blink and also you become less effective at producing the oily part of your tears. Women too are more at risk due to changes in hormone levels, (this can be the menopause, pregnancy, using the contraceptive pill or basically anything that may cause your hormone levels to fluctuate).
Some people may suffer a blockage in their meibomian glands which can cause eye lids to become red and uncomfortable. This is a condition called blepharitis and needs to be treated differently to dry eyes. If you suffer from this you can get a blepha starter pack that will give you an eye mask, drops, oilment and pads here £29.99.
Your first port of call should always be your optician, they can not only give you advice on how to manage your dry eyes but also determine what is causing the problem. However, here are a few ways you can help your dry eye problem:
Both winter and summer can cause problems for suffers with dry eyes. High temperatures and use of air conditioning in summer and increased use of central heating in winter can cause your tears to evaporate. One of your bodies responses to this is for your eyes to water uncontrollably hence why you can get watery eyes. The stinginess you may feels also comes from your eyes being sore due to the dryness and this again may cause your eyes to water uncontrollably.
Although there is not much help for these in summer, in winter you can aleviate the problem by leaving containers of water on radiators to ensure there is moisture in the air or open a window for a couple of minutes a day.
If it's a windy day you may want to wear glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind. The best type of sunglasses are one's that wrap around the face to protect the side of your eyes from wind or those that include a wind proof gasket.
Smoke can also irritate your eyes, both from a fire but also from smoking. If you are in a smoky environment, make sure there is plenty of ventilation.
Using a Computer/Watching TV
Looking at a computer screen or watching TV can cause you to blink less often. So you should try the 20/20/20 rule - EVERY 20 minutes, take a 20 second break to look at objects at least 20 feet away. Also when looking away, making a conscious effort to blink more. For more information on how to combact eye fatigue when using the computer (all year round) click here.
Using eye lubricants
Eye lubricants do not contain drugs so you can use them without requiring a prescription and they are available over the counter. Some do have preservatives in them which can make your eyes sore if used too often. If you need to use them more than 6 times a day you should use some without preservatives.
We offer 3 types of Eye Drops and Solutions
Keep Your Eyelids Clean
Avoid using makeup particularly on the rim of your eyelids as this blocks the glands that produce the oily part of your tear film. This can cause the area around your eyes to be inflamed.
Have Treatment to Stop the Tears Draining Away
There are treatments to stop the tears draining away but these are best discussed with your optician or doctor.