• Let’s talk about – Dry eye

    21st October 2020
  • Do you ever get that gritty feeling in your eyes or do they start streaming as soon as you step foot out of the door? Both can be part of a condition called dry eye. In this short article, I will highlight the most common causes and what you can do about it.

    Dry eye is a condition whereby the teary film over your eye isn’t functioning properly. Your eye is lubricated with a film of fluid that is made up of three parts: water, an oily substance and a mucous-like component. When you blink your eyes, this film washes away any dirt and lubricates the eye. If you don’t blink enough, for instance when you work on the computer, the warm air around you will evaporate the film, making your eyes feel dry. It’s important to stick to the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20 second break and look at something 20 metres away. You can add 20 blinks to that if you want!

    What is dry eye?

    If you have dry eye, your eyes may be itchy, sore, gritty, red, blurry, sensitive to light or more watery than normal. That last one may sound a bit strange but it’s all in the type of fluid that is being used by your body. Watery eyes are usually an allergic reaction. The normal film has three components, whereas tears are mostly watery. Great for washing away stuff but little use for proper lubrication.

    Why do I get dry eye?

    You are more likely to get dry eyes if you are over 50, if you wear contact lenses, spend time in a heated or air conditioned environment and when it’s windy, cold, dry or dusty. Smoking or drinking alcohol doesn’t help and certain medicines can be part of the problem.

    What can I do?

    dry eye, opts moist heat mask

    There are several ways to treat dry eyes, depending on the underlying condition. You can get drops or a gel and our optometrist will discuss the best treatment with you.

    At home or at work you can make sure there is enough moisture in the air with a humidifier, wear your glasses instead of your contact lenses when your eyes are tired and in general keep your eyes nice and clean. 

    Clean your eyelid margins and eye lashes with lid wipes if there is dried oil or “gunk” in them. Gently rub along the lash line on your top and bottom lids. Sometimes the oil glands at the edge of your lids get inflamed and clogged. A warm treatment can melt the hardened oil so it can flow again. The way to do this is with a moist heat mask. Just heat up in the microwave and then apply it to your eye for 10 minutes daily. Afterwards you can gently massage your lids in a circular motion.

    When should I see an optometrist?

    If you feel that your eyesight is fluctuating especially when doing visual tasks, if you are noticing any gritty, burning sensation in your eyes or if your eyes keep watering you may have a form of dry eye. We can then examine you and advise of the most appropriate form of treatment.

    If you would like to make an appointment, please click here.