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Your Vision & Hearing Health

Understanding & Relieving Your Dry Eyes

Posted on January 20, 2024

Dry eyes can be a very uncomfortable and frustrating experience, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities such as reading, driving, wearing contact lenses or looking at screens.

Dry eyes can be a very uncomfortable and frustrating experience, making it difficult to carry out everyday activities such as reading, driving, wearing contact lenses or looking at screens.

Symptoms of dry eyes include eye irritation, itchiness, soreness, redness, burning and blurred vision. Watery eyes may also be a symptom of dry eyes, as this is sometimes the way that your body tries to compensate for the dryness.

If you are experiencing any of the above, this article will help you to understand what might be causing dryness and help you to find relief. Learn more about the causes and some potential remedies.

What causes dry eyes?

  1. An issue with tear film production

    When we blink, our eyes spread a thin layer of tear film over the eye in order to keep the surface of our eyes clear. Without appropriate production of this film from our tear ducts, our eyes can’t be adequately coated and cleared, and this can begin to cause discomfort and affect vision. Tears are made of three layers. These include an oily layer (top layer of the film), a watery layer (middle layer) and a mucus layer (bottom layer).The oily layer works to maintain a smooth surface and acts as a barrier between the atmosphere and the bottom two layers of the tear film. Oils are produced by the meibomian glands of the eye. The majority of our tear film is made of the watery, middle layer which cleans the eye, and this layer comes from the lacrimal glands. The third mucus layer anchors the film and ensures it is spread evenly over the eye’s surface. If an issue occurs with production of any of these three layers, it will lead to dry eyes. Decreased tear production can be influenced by (1) Ageing, as tear production worsens over the age of 50; (2) Some medical conditions such as allergic eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjodren’s syndrome, scleroderma, lupus, thyroid conditions or deficiency of vitamin A; (3) Decreased corneal nerve sensitivity; and (4) Medicines such as decongestants, antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure medication, acne medication and birth control

  2. Tear evaporation

    The atmosphere you’re in may be causing your dry eyes. Air conditioning or heating can dry out your eyes as it removes moisture from the air, explains Optimax. This encourages tear film to evaporate prematurely. Wind, smoke or dry air can have the same effect. If the meibomian glands become blocked and an issue occurs with the oily layer of your tear film, this will also mean it is easier for tears to evaporate prematurely. Vitamin A deficiency, eye allergies, or problems with the eyelid can also impact dryness.

  3. Long periods of focus

    According to healthline, you usually blink 15 to 20 times per minute, or once every 3-4 seconds. When you are focusing, you blink much less and this can cause your eyes to dry out. When working for a long period of time at a computer screen, reading or performing tasks that require concentration, it’s important to take breaks. The 20-20-20 rule recommends you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Making sure you are wearing contact lenses or glasses, if you are prescribed them, will also stop you from exerting your eyes.

Dry eye relief with your optometrist

The best option for tailored relief from dryness is to book an appointment with your optometrist. An optometrist is able to assess your condition, diagnose the cause and advise the best treatment options for you.

Dry eye therapy options prescribed by an optometrist include:

  1. Artificial tears to lubricate the eyes.
  2. Prescription eye drops containing immune-suppressing medication or corticosteroids.
  3. Eye ointments containing Vitamin A to soothe overnight.
  4. BlephEx treatment to eliminate bacteria and toxins along the lash margins.
  5. Eyelid cleansers to remove contaminants.
  6. Meibomian gland expression to prevent clogged glands.
  7. LipiFlow eye massage to improve the quality of eye oils and open glands.
  8. Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL) to combat gland dysfunction.
  9. iLux device that heats and presses the eyelids.

Home remedies that may offer relief

If you don’t have time to make the trip to your local practice and want to find relief at home in the meantime, try these 4 methods:

  1. Blink more to maintain lubrication.
  2. Applying a warm compress may help to express meibomian glands.
  3. Cleaning your lashes and lids frequently with clean water can help to remove dust or bacteria.
  4. Using a humidifier may help to increase the humidity and moisture in your home atmosphere.

For more permanent, tailored relief that treats the source of your dryness, it is recommended that you visit your optometrist.

Methods of prevention in your lifestyle

  • If you are prone to dry eye disease, here are some other potential preventative steps you can take in your lifestyle:
  • Spend less time with screens
  • Keep up your vitamin A intake and omega–3 fatty acids in your diet
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Stay hydrated
  • Wear eyewear such as sunglasses or goggles to reduce irritation

Dry eye relief with George & Matilda Eyecare

George & Matilda Eyecare is a network of proudly Australian, locally owned and operated independents. Our practices are dedicated to providing communities with better vision and improved eye health Australia-wide.

If you have stubborn dryness that is affecting your daily life, visit your local George & Matilda Eyecare practice for a comprehensive eye assessment, reliable treatment and personalised advice.

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