Dry eyes is a fairly common condition and it occurs when there’s a problem with the tear production process or with the quality or quantity of tears produced. Women are twice as likely to suffer with this ailment.
- Sore or gritty eyes.
- Dry or burning eyes.
- Blurred vision that improves after blinking.
- Watery eyes (this occurs because the eye tries to produce more tears to relieve the dryness)
The most common causes are:
- Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy, menopause or when using the contraceptive pill.
- Environmental factors, such as too much sun, wind or heat.
- Activities that can either strain the eyes by making you stare more or reduce your blink rate, such as reading, writing or using the computer for prolonged periods of time.
- Medicines, which include some antidepressants, antihistamines, and certain blood pressure-lowering medicines (diuretics and beta-blockers)
- Using contact lenses.
- Recent laser eye surgery.
- Medical conditions such as Bell’s palsy, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
If left untreated some complications can occur such as
- Conjunctivitis, which is an infection of the eye and may need antibiotics to resolve
- Keratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea, which, again, may need antibiotics, prescription eye drops or anti-viral medicine.
The good news is dry eyes are easy to manage. Here’s a few ways you can reduce the effects of dry eyes:
- Keep yourself hydrated and drink plenty of water.
- Try an over the counter product that’s designed to alleviate dry eye symptoms, like artificial tears or lubricating eye drops.
- Keep your eyelids and eyelashes clean by gently cleaning them.
- Omega-3 may help to ease symptoms but this has not been proven. It can be found in oily fish and plant-based sources like walnuts and rapeseed oil.
If you are at all concerned you can speak to a pharmacist, optician or the health professionals in the eye clinic who will be able to advise you on the best treatment for you.