Find out what causes dry eyes
Mr Tariq Ayoub - 11 Aug 2021
Have your eyes ever felt dry and itchy at random moments during the day?
Having dry eyes is a common condition that affects the quality of life for millions of people around the world.
This article will tell you more about dry eyes. And how to get relief from feelings of discomfort in your eyes when you wake up or throughout the day.
Dry, itchy eyes and other dry eye symptoms
Depending on their cause, symptoms can range from mildly irritating to extremely bothersome.
If you experience these symptoms on a regular basis, you may have a dry eye problem:
- Sore or itchy eyes
- Grittiness or feeling as if something is in your eye (even when there isn’t)
- A burning or stinging sensation in your eye
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- Your eyes look red or irritated
- Your eyes are very watery
Dry eye causes
Dry eyes are normally due to a problem with the production of tears that lubricate the eye. There are many potential causes of dry eyes, including:
- Wearing contact lenses that are irritating your eyes
- Using computer screens for long periods of time
- Age, especially if you are over 50
- Other lifestyle factors, including smoking, drinking alcohol, a poor diet, stress or a lack of sleep. These are common reasons for having dry eyes in the morning
- You’re exposed to excessive air conditioning or heating which makes tears evaporate
- Spending time in very wind, cold, dusty or dry weather conditions
- Allergies to dust mites, pollen, or other allergens can cause the eyes to produce tears. But the tears may not be enough to keep the eyes from feeling dry
- Side effects of certain medications, such as antidepressants or drugs for high blood pressure. You may need medical advice about switching to a different prescription
- An infection, such as conjunctivitis or sinusitis, or an underlying medical problem. Talk to your doctor to rule out conditions such as blepharitis, Sjögren’s syndrome or lupus.
Treatments for dry eyes
Chronic dry eyes may lead to complications if left untreated. The first options for treating dry eye are likely to be a combination of:
- Lifestyle changes (when, for example, the cause may be something in your diet or environment)
- Over-the-counter eye drops/artificial tears, gels, ointments or allergy treatments (if the case is mild)
- Prescription eye drops, eye inserts or anti-inflammatory medications. These are for chronic cases that fail to improve after trying over-the-counter products.
Consult a doctor if you have concerns about a problem with dry eyes.
When you visit a specialist eye doctor (ophthalmologist) for diagnosis they will:
- Measure the length of time it takes for your eyes to tear up
- Check to see whether your eyes produce enough tears
- Examine the structure of your eyelids.
The ophthalmologist will suggest a treatment option based on the type and severity of your symptoms. It also depends on any other medical conditions you have.
Your ophthalmologist may recommend surgery if:
- After a few weeks, the treatments you use at home have not been effective, or;
- The shape of your eyelids is contributing to your dry eye (for example, when closing your eyes, the eyelids don’t meet up properly).
What should you do when lifestyle changes and medications do not help with chronic dry eyes? Your ophthalmologist may discuss the following treatment options with you:
BlephEx is a new treatment for dry, sore, itchy eyes and eyelid inflammation (blepharitis).
It uses a specialised eyelid cleaning instrument to remove bacteria and debris from the eyelid margins and eyelashes. This reduces the build-up of excess bacteria and toxins from the lashes, which are the main causes of eyelid problems.
The procedure only takes a few minutes and is carried out in our clinic by a member of our expert team. We use a disposable medical grade micro-sponge for each eye. And we will normally add numbing eye drops to make the procedure completely pain-free.
If needed, you can have repeated BlephEx treatments every four to six months to maintain eyelid hygiene and prevent your symptoms from returning.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL) treatment
IPL is a painless, light-based therapy for eyelid inflammation (similar to the type used in dermatology to treat lesions, rosacea and pigmentation problems).
During the procedure, we apply specially filtered light pulses to blood vessels underneath the lower eyelashes.
This stimulates the meibomian glands (which are inside the eyelids) to produce oils that prevent tears from drying out too quickly.
Each session takes just a few minutes. You may need about three to five treatments, approximately four weeks apart, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Book an appointment
Learn more about chronic dry eye treatments by contacting us to make an appointment. Oculase is your local eye specialist in London and Birmingham, with conveniently located clinics in both locations.
Our lead eye surgeon, Mr Tariq Ayoub, will ask about your medical history and carry out a complete assessment of your eyes and eyelids.
He will then discuss the risks and benefits of treatment options in detail during your consultation to help you make an informed decision.