Dry eye is becoming a bigger part of our practice, with one in 4 patients that attend eye clinics reporting symptoms of the disease. Dry eye affects between 5 and 50% of the population. This seems to be mainly due to lifestyle changes. We are indoors more, in air conditioned environments, have sedentary jobs, and look at screens all day.
Dry eye is increasingly being seen in younger age groups, which is thought to be a result of extended screen use. (Muntz a. et. al. Extended Screen Time and Dry Eye in Youth, Contact lens Anterior Eye: 2021.)
Why Are My Eyes Dry in Winter?
One of the main reasons is that the weather in winter is normally dry and inside we normally have heaters on, which dries out the air even more.
If you are predisposed to dry eyes you may notice this more in winter. What are some ways to treat this? Improve your blink. You may be a poor blinker, not fully closing the lids when blinking. Practice closing the lids, where the top lid touches the bottom, and this can help as the tears are spread over the whole of the eye. Even closing the eyes for a while to let the tears spread around them can help.
Placing a warm facecloth onto the lids can increase comfort. If none of these soothe it enough you may need tear supplements. We recommend preservative free drops and, we feel, the best ones to use are Hylofresh, for standard dryness and Hyloforte for when it is a bit worse.
If you are experiencing dry eyes make an appointment and we will do a special group of tests to find the best ways to treat this.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye syndrome is a lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture in the eye leaving the cornea (the main lens of the eye) with an inadequate tear film. This occurs when the eye doesn’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.
Key Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Dry eye symptoms include itchiness, grittiness, pain and blurry vision, and can severely impact our quality of life ( Stapleton F et. al. TFOS Epidemiology report. The Ocular Surface 2017. 15 (3) p334-365) and in severe cases can lead to blindness. Dry eyes are typically worse in the evening.
You may have Dry Eye if you are experiencing:
- Persistent dyness
- sometimes excessive watering as the tears produced fail to wet the cornea properly
- Sore, gritty eyes
- Itchy or irritated eyes
- Inflamed eyelids
- Faintly diffuse red eyes
- The urge to blink hard frequently
- Constantly runny eyes
What are the Causes of Dry Eyes?
Dry Eye syndrome has several causes:
- Our eyes are sensitive to our environment. If the air condition blows air too hard or if it is windy, naturally it dries up the surface of our eyes and causes irritations
- Allergic conditions such as hay fever
- Hormonal changes with age or certain medication use
- Our eye lid skin becoming loose with age can mean the tears aren’t held well and thus lead to dry eyes
- Not blinking enough and blinking partially so only half our eyes are covered
- Contact lens wearers also suffer from dry eyes more towards the end of the day as the lens reduces oxygen to the eyes
How is Dry Eyes treated?
While the syndrome may not be completely curable (depending on the cause), the symptoms can be managed with the use of lubricating eye drops, gels and ointments. Your optometrist will advise you of the best option to help you obtain comfortable, clear vision again.
Recommended to relieve symptoms of Meibomian, Gland Dysfunction and associated diseases. In standardised conditions, Blephasteam® provides moisture and heat therapy. This dual action melts the meibomian secretions and obstruction.
This system combines a soft mask with disposable warm packs for the application of localized heat therapy to the eyelids treating. In addition to a relaxing sensation, the warmth is known to improve the flow of natural oils in the glands in the eyelids.
Optimel is a lubricant which incorporates manuka honey substance and also has an anti-bacterial factor as well. Studies have found it to be effective in alleviating chronic dry eye and eyelid disease issues, improve the tear quality of our eyes.
What Else Can I do to Relieve Dry Eye?
Watch what you eat and drink
Drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated, eat plenty of food that is rich in vitamins A, C and E, and get plenty of sleep to keep your eyes healthy. Modify your work or home environment to improve humidity and avoid airflow drafts that can dry out your tear film.
Warm compresses at home
You can heat up the eyelid margin by getting a towel hot enough to tolerate and leaving on top of your eyes closed for about two minutes every night.
Once the eyelids have been warmed, with your fingers, for your lower eye lids gently roll upwards to the lash margins and for your upper lids gently roll downwards. It has to be done at least 4-5days/every week for 2-3 weeks to notice a difference! But this is one of the most effective measures found by ocular experts.
What Happens in a Dry Eye Examination?
A dry eye examination involves a number of tests to determine the quality of your tears, your lid health, assessment for any inflammation in the eye and a special questionnaire. From there we can determine the best option to manage your condition. In most cases, once we have found the cause of the dry eye, we can manage your condition to make life more comfortable.
Latest Changes in Dry Eye Management – 2022 Update
The increased interest and understanding in dry eye management has meant that there are now more technologies and products available to best treat this condition. For example, many eye drops are now being developed without preservatives, as many people react to extended use of preservatives. Formulations of eye drops have also been improved as we understand the tear film more and more, this means that there are more tailored solutions to each patient’s dry eye, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Also, things like face masks for warm eye compresses provide a more holistic approach to treating dry eye, following this up with an eye massage helps open up the oil glands in the eye lids, reducing the evaporation of tears. Using lid scrubs and getting Blephasteam treatments also help dry eyes caused by blepharitis (inflammation along the edges of the eyelid).
If you feel you have dry, irritated eyes come in and see us for a dry eye consultation and see how we can help you.
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Dry Eye FAQs
How to book a consultation?
You can call our office, email us or book a consultation through the book appointment tab at the top of the website.
What experience does Gavin Boneham have?
Gavin has been an optometrist for 35 years. He has a particular interest and expertise in fitting complex contact lenses especially for myopia management and Keratoconus. He was one of the first fitters of Orthokeratology in Australia and has been the President of the Orthokeratology Society of Oceania for 20 years. He has helped run the specialty contact lens clinic at UNSW for over 10 years
What are the primary eye conditions you treat?
We treat the common visual problems that you will encounter. Shortsghtedness (not being able to see in the distance), farsightedness (harder to see up close), Presbyopia ( an over 40’s condition when it is harder to read up close.
We also have advanced technologies to check for signs of macula degeneration, glaucoma, diabetes, cataracts, dry eye disease and keratoconus.
What makes Boneham Optometrist's different?
Our practice has been looking after patients since the 1930’s. We are a family owned and run business. We keep up to date with the latest techniques, technologies so as to ensure that you are receiving the most up to date management of your eye conditions. Our optometrists are involved in the edcuation of other optometrists and have presented locally and internationally at conferences.
Is there warranty on frames and lenses?
We offer the warranty on all frames and lenses in accordance with the individual supplier. Regular wear and tear is not covered under warranty.
What types of complex eye conditions do you treat?
We mostly treat complex astigmatism cases such as Keratoconus, manage myopia, and eye diseases such as glaucoma and macula degeneration.
Do you supply custom hard lenses?
Fitting hard lenses has been something that we have done at Boneham Optometrist since our inception in the 1930’s. More and more, custom hard lenses have become the standard in fitting at our practice. We are able to achieve better vision and comfort with these lenses, and since we have invested in technology that allows us to fit these lenses even more accurately than ever before, we find that they are the best option for a lot of our hard contact lens wearers.