Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is sometimes known as dry eye disease or keratoconjunctivitis sicca is a very common ailment which is characterised by inflamed and irritated eyes. Dry eye syndrome is caused by tears evaporating too quickly or the eye not producing enough tears.

While some people will just experience symptoms in one of their eyes, most people are affected in both eyes. Typical symptoms of this condition include the following and symptoms tend to get worse throughout the day:

  • Gritty feeling in eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Sticky eyes in the morning
  • Blurred vision (temporary)

Diagnosis

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of dry eye syndrome, you should visit your GP. They can work out whether you are suffering from dry eye syndrome or if the symptoms are the result of an underlying problem.

Your doctor will usually begin by asking questions about the symptoms you are experiencing and may inquire about your medical history. Common questions regard your lifestyle and what medications you are currently prescribed.

If the doctor cannot determine for sure whether you have dry eye syndrome, you will be referred to an ophthalmologist. They can perform further tests to diagnose the condition including a Schirmer’s test and a fluorescein dye test.

Treatment

Unfortunately, at the moment there is no cure for dry eye syndrome. However, there are a range of treatments available. If you are suffering from mild to moderate symptoms there are a number of lubricant treatments that can help. These come in the form of gels and drops and are designed to replace the absent water in the tear film.

If your GP finds that your symptoms are rooted in an inflammatory problem in or around the eye, you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory treatments. These include corticosteroid eye drops, oral tetracylines and ciclosporin eye drops.

Other treatment options available for rare cases include autologous serum eyes drops which are made using cells from your blood and surgery. Common surgical procedures include sealing the tear ducts with plugs or cauterization.

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

In its simplest for dry eye syndrome is caused by the eye not producing enough tears to keep the eye lubricated or by tears evaporating too quickly. There are a number of factors which can trigger dry eye syndrome and the exact cause is sometimes unknown. The list below highlights some of the main causes of dry eye syndrome and risk factors:

  • Aging: as we get older our eyelids do not spread tears that well and eyes produce fewer tears
  • Hormones: these powerful chemicals can also cause dry eye syndrome, especially in women.
  • Contact lenses: these can irritate the eye and cause dry eye syndrome. However, changing lenses or reducing your use of them can quickly resolve the issue.
  • Medications: many medicines can cause dry eye syndrome as a side-effect.
  • Medical conditions: some medical conditions can make people more susceptible to developing dry eye syndrome. Such conditions include: lupus, allergic conjunctivitis and HIV.