AUGUST 6, 2017
Every time we blink tears wash over our eyes to keep them moist and stop them from drying out. I know that it seems strange but watery or teary eyes are often a symptom of dry eyes. This is because our eyes are trying to moisturise themselves but either not enough tears are being made or they are not being made properly and so are evaporating too quickly. Our tears are not just made up of the salty water we taste when we cry but a lot of other substances as well. Other common symptoms of dry eyes include burning, stinging, blurred vision, grittiness, tired eyes and a dry feeling while the white of the eye appears red. Our eyes can be damaged if they stay dry for too long. There are many causes of dry eyes.
Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid disorders, Sjogren’s syndrome, menopause and more
Antihistamines, beta-blockers and diuretics (cardiovascular medicines), decongestants, some antidepressants, oral contraceptives, HRT, Parkinson’s medicines and more
OTHER CAUSES OF DRY EYES
Aging, damage to the tear duct or gland, use of contact lenses, wind, air conditioning, long periods of reading/computer work
HOW TO TREAT DRY EYES
For some people treatment needs to be continued long term as dry eyes can’t be cured but can be easily managed.
Simple measures such as wearing sunglasses when out in the sun or wind, avoiding sitting right in front of an air conditioner and having regular blinking breaks when reading or using a computer all help to manage and prevent dry eyes.
If you take medications or have medical conditions speak with you Pharmacist or Doctor about the effects of these on your eye symptoms. If you also have a dry mouth this may mean medications or medical conditions are involved.
Despite trying the measures above or determining the cause treatment is often needed. Many drops, gels, sprays and ointments are available to use.
These are usually used first. It is a good idea to use drops regularly throughout the day to prevent and treat dry eye symptoms. If drops are needed more than four times daily it is a good idea to use the single use vials as these don’t contain preservatives.
These are thicker than normal drops. The thicker the product the longer it lasts in the eye. The disadvantage of thicker drops is that your vision can be blurred temporarily after you put them in.
These are relatively new to the market for dry eyes. They are a good option for people who have trouble putting drops in their eyes as you just close your eye and spray over your closed lid.
These are usually used before bed as they are quite thick and so blur vision for a while. Ointments are great for people who wake up with stuck together, gritty or sore dry eyes as they stay on your eye all night keeping it moisturised.
Conjunctivitis and allergies can cause similar symptoms to dry eye.
If you have symptoms that are severe or you have pain in your eye, loss of vision, headache or prolonged dry eye symptoms see your Pharmacist, Optometrist or Doctor to make sure you are treating the condition appropriately.