Dry Eyes – Causes and Solutions
We specialise in identifying and helping to treat Dry Eye Syndrome
What causes Dry Eyes?
The healthy eye stays comfortable thanks to a tear layer that rests on the front surface of the eye and protects the sensitive skin from direct exposure to wind and debris. This layer is formed of a mix of water and oils and is being continually drained and replenished via the tear ducts.
Dry Eyes can occur when tear production is insufficient, when tear drainage is excessive or when the make-up of the tears is poor, allowing them to evaporate off the surface of the eye faster than they can be replenished. Despite the name, in some cases the result is excessively watering eyes as the tear-ducts over-react to try and keep the eye moist.
There are many factors that can cause these problems for the eyes including medication, natural hormonal changes, climactic conditions (including air conditioning), using a computer screen for long periods (when you will blink less, so lubricating the eyes less), or simply ageing. It is not always possible, or necessary, to identify the cause of the dry eye, more important is to establish which factor in the eye’s natural lubrication process is not working and to tackle this directly.
Book a Dry Eye Consultation
There are a variety of short and long term solutions available for Dry Eye Syndrome with different options available, depending on which part of the eye’s natural lubrication process is not working properly. To help us identify this and give you the best advice for tackling your Dry Eyes, we offer a dedicated Dry Eye Consultation.
During the appointment we will test your tear duct drainage, including tear volume assessment, carry out a detailed anterior eye check and formulate a treatment plan, this is followed by a complimentary follow-up appointment, usually after three months, to assess any changes.
Since Dry Eye Syndrome has a variety of causes, we will carry out a full advanced eye examination at the same time to check the rest of the eye for problems (this will not be required if we have seen you for a test within the last three months). For pricing for the Dry Eye Assessment and the Advanced Eye Examination, see our Fees Page.
To book an appointment, telephone the practices, pop in, or request an appointment online. Please specify that you would like to book in for a Dry Eye Consultation when you contact us.
Tear Duct Procedures
During your Dry Eye Consultation, the optometrist might determine the cause of the issue to be a blockage within the tear duct. This can stop the natural tears from draining off the eye and lead to excessive watering as the tear glands continue to produce new tears. A syringing of the tear ducts can in some cases dislodge or break-down the blockage, if this is not possible, the testing involved allows us to confirm that a blockage is present and we can refer you on to have this surgically removed if you wish.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we might discover that your tear-ducts are too efficient in removing your tears from the eyes, draining them quicker than you can produce them, leading to the Dry Eye sensations. In this case, we can fit Punctal Plugs into the tear-ducts. These tiny pieces, smaller than a grain of rice, will restrict the tear ducts and keep your natural tears on your eyes. A temporary plug is normally fitted first, this will break-down after a few months, allowing us to assess the effectiveness. If successful, we can fit permanent plugs at a follow-up appointment.
All of these procedures can be carried out by one of your trusted optometrists, in practice, at a date and time that suit you, no doctor or hospital referrals are required. See our Fees Page for pricing details.
Dry Eye Relief
There are a wide selection of dry eye products available on the market, we carry a carefully selected range that we know provide the best results for Dry Eye sufferers, from drops and ointment for short term relief, to tablets that can naturally boost the quality of your eye’s tear film. We will recommend products during your Dry Eye Consultation that are best for you, you can also ask our practice staff for any general advice.
Lacrima is a specially designed supplement for sufferers of Dry Eye, containing antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to improve the nutrition of the cornea and maintain the comfort of the tear film.
The active ingredients include GLA from Borage oil and Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil which support normal tear secretion, Alpha lipoic acid which helps to protect the cornea and increase the stability of the tear film, vitamins C and E protect the macula from free radicals and further supports the tear film.
Lacrima also includes Zinc which helps to protect the eye tissues from age related wear and tear and promotes good eye health. Uniquely for an eye health product, the zinc is microencapsulated, so it does not react with the fish oils in the tablet and prevents fishy odours and allows for a longer shelf life.
Many cases of dry eye are connected to Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). The Meibomian glands produce an oily secretion onto the surface of the eye which helps to stop your tears from evaporating away too quickly and helps to keep the eye lubricated and comfortable. These glands can often become blocked as the oils become hardened, so the tears on the eye do not do their job properly, leading to dry eye conditions including blepharitis. The solution is to apply heat to the eyes, to melt the blockages and allow the glands to work as normal.
The Eye Bag is the original and best product on the market for helping to soothe dry and uncomfortable eyes. Simply heat in a microwave and place over the eyes, it will stay warm for up to ten minutes, enough time to melt the blockages in the glands and provide relief. This lasts longer than a hot flannel and without the mess. The Eye Bag was designed and is manufactured in West Yorkshire with all-natural and locally sourced flax, it is the best selling eye care product at Airedale Opticians, making it easy for us to recommend for all dry eye sufferers.
Combining the proven comfort and health benefits of the popular Thealoz and Hyabak range of eye drops, Thealoz Duo is preservative free, safe to use with contact lenses and available in three different forms. The easy to carry and squeeze 10ml bottle contains 300 drops and can be used for up to three months from opening. A pack of 30 single doses offers great flexibility for occasional use. Thealoz Duo gel provides a longer lasting dose, ideal for over night use.
Eye Ointments for Night time use
For dry eye sufferers, discomfort can build-up overnight, leading to very dry and painful eyes in the morning. Overnight ointments contain liquid paraffin (mineral oil) which provides a transparent layer on the surface of the eye, helping to reduce this irritation. The ointments are also recommended for sufferers of corneal epithelial erosion to help protect the cornea overnight and relieve some of the associated discomfort.
Due to the popularity of the ointments, some brands do become unavailable for short periods, we therefore carry a selection of ointments so that there is always an equivalent product in stock, please ask a colleague in practice for more information if you cannot see the product you normally use.
Our range includes VitA-pos, Xailin Night and Lacri-lube.