Dry eye conditions are a surprisingly frequent presentation in our consulting rooms, with over 20% of the adult population experiencing some symptoms. These vary from mild to severe burning and discomfort, through to blurred vision and even scarring associated with infection. At its worst dry eye will have a significant impact on day to day quality of life.
Many office workers who find their eyes are gritty and scratchy at the end of the day accompanied by vision blurred are experiencing dry eye symptoms. The condition is exacerbated by office air-conditioning and the reduced blink rate which naturally occurs when we are engaged in reading and working on digital devices.
Dry eye can follow a seasonal pattern, being more common in winter (dry heated air) and spring and autumn (allergy). It is also strongly associated with many medical conditions including arthritis, diabetes, asthma, gout, the use of some medications, and after eye surgery. Dry eye is more common in women and the elderly.
Managing the symptoms of dry eye can be challenging for both the sufferer and the practitioner alike. Dry eye can take many forms – aqueous deficiency, oily layer deficiency and Meibomian Gland Disfunction – with many people experiencing all three. Once the problem area(s) have been diagnosed, treatment can involve a combination of strategies:
• Regular use of ocular lubricants. Your optometrist will be able to advise on the best option for your purpose.
• Paying attention to our eye lids – using hot compresses and heat masks to improve tear secretions and reduce the presence of infectious materials around our eye lashes.
• Omega 3 (fish oil). The recommended dose is 2000mg per day (usually 2 standard capsules.) If you are taking regular medication you should not start on any supplements without consulting your managing doctor.
Unfortunately, dry eye conditions are chronic – that means they are not going to go away! Our natural tendency is to reduce compliance with treatment as our symptoms become less apparent. However it has been shown that this can exacerbate the problem in the long term, increasing the risk of a more debilitating condition.
If you suspect you are experiencing dry eye problems please book an appointment for an eye examination and for us to discuss the best strategy for management.