What is dry eye syndrome?
According to Dr David Robinson, Sydney based eye doctor,Dry eye syndrome, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is when your eyes either don’t produce enough tears or when your tears evaporate too fast.
Tears contain oil, water and mucus, and all three of these substances play a crucial role in your eye health. Every time you blink, your tears wash away debris from the surface of your eyes, keeping them moist and comfortable and making sure that you can see properly.
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome can include a dry, gritty sensation, soreness, the feeling that you’ve got something stuck in your eyes, redness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light. Strange as it may sound, very watery eyes can also be a symptom—this is when your body overproduces tears in response to your eyes not being lubricated enough.
Dry eye syndrome affects around 344 million people worldwide.
What causes dry eye syndrome?
Several factors can cause you to develop dry eye syndrome:
· too much screen time (this can reduce how much you blink by as much as half, and blinking keeps your eyes lubricated)
· long-term use of contact lenses
· certain medications, including antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, birth-control pills and beta blockers
· certain autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and thyroid conditions (autoimmune disorders affect your immune system, causing it to misfire by attacking healthy tissue)
· ageing (you produce fewer tears as you get older)
· menopause (women are more likely to develop dry eye syndrome)
· environmental conditions (e.g., overexposure to air-conditioning, ceiling fans or heating systems when indoors, or overexposure to dry and windy conditions or high altitudes when outdoors)
How can you reduce your risk of developing dry eye syndrome?
There are plenty of simple steps you can take to lower your risk of dry eye syndrome:
· Make sure you eat a healthy diet with plenty of foods rich in vitamin A, which supports healthy tear production. These foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, squash, romaine lettuce, dried apricots, rockmelon, red capsicum, mangoes, eggs, milk, cheese, butter and liver.
· If you wear contact lenses, don’t keep them in when you go to bed. Alternatively, consider LASIK surgery to correct your vision so that you don’t need to wear contacts anymore.
· Try to reduce your screen time.
· Protect your eyes when you’re exposed to indoor and outdoor environments with excessively dry air—try closing your eyes frequently to prevent your tears from evaporating too quickly.
· Artificial tear drops (preferably preservative free)
· Lacritec tablets which contain flax seed and other oils
· Make sure you book regular check-ups with your doctor or Ophthalmologist so you can identify any risks or symptoms.
What should you do if you have dry eye syndrome?
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of dry eye syndrome, book an appointment at Sydney Laser and Vision Centre or call 1800 25 20 20 to see our Sydney Ophthalmologist, Dr David Robinson. He can examine your eyes and recommend a range of treatment options based on your diagnosis.