What is Dry Eye?
Dry eyes are a common condition where the delicate balance of the tear film becomes disrupted, and the quality and quantity of the tears is reduced.
The instability of the tear film leads to inflammation which damages the surface of the eyes.
The role of the tear film is to maintain healthy eyes and optimise your vision. The blinking process helps provide nutrients to the front surface, lubricate the eye, and sweep away any debris and protect them from infection.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eyes
- Discomfort and pain
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Redness of the eyes
- Foreign body sensation
- Watery eyes (more about this later)
- Blurred vision which can lead to eye fatigue
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Swollen eyelids
This list is not exhaustive but gives an overall idea of how uncomfortable dry eyes can feel.
Causes of Dry Eyes
- Use of digital devices – prolonged time on a screen can reduce blink rate, which affects tear production. Ofcom found that adults spend on average 8 hours and 41 minutes per day on digital devices, compared with an average sleep of 8 hours and 21 minutes.
- Environmental factors – dry air, low humidity, air conditioning, pollution
- Cigarette smoke – as well as dry eyes and other health conditions. There is also the risk of macular degeneration.
- Health conditions such as thyroid disease, inflammatory disease like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, IBS and Sjogren’s syndrome
- Certain medications
The Science Part
The tear film is a complex structure made of 3 layers