What is 'dry eye'?
When the eye does not produce enough tears, or when those tears that are present evaporate too quickly it is called 'dry eye'.
This causes dessication and inflammation of the surface of eye, and leads to a number of symptoms:
· Irritation, burning, stinging, and a feeling of 'something in the eye'.
· Intermittent redness.
· Stickiness, especially in the morning.
· Difficulty opening the eyes in the morning, and tired eyes through the day.
· Intermittent watering of the irritable eye - especially in the wind or when trying to read.
· Fluctuating vision.
These symptoms are particularly noticeable in patients with dry eye in the following circumstances:
· In dry air environments (eg a hot day)
· In windy conditions.
· In air conditioning or central heating, or before an open fire.
· During periods of concentration (e.g. driving, reading, computer work) especially when combined with the above conditions.
· Contact lens wear.
· After laser vision correction.
If left untreated, dry eye can lead to persistent pain, ulceration of the cornea and some loss of vision. There can be an increased risk of secondary infection. Permanent loss of vision from dry eye is uncommon however.
Treatment should to be tailored to the individual. There are various preparations to treat dry eye that are available. A specialist examination of your eyes to assess your specific needs is important, so that any recommended investigations, and the most effective treatment can be arranged.