What is dry eye disease and how is it treated?

  • by Amelia

What is Dry Eye Disease?

Does what it says on the tin, but all the same, Dry Eye Syndrome, or Dry Eye Disease is an unpleasant, but common condition that occurs when your eyes do not make enough tears or the tears produced evaporate too quickly. When this happens, you may feel your eyes starting to dry out and they might become inflamed (red and swollen) and irritated.

What are the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease? 

Usually Dry Eye DIsease is diagnosed by a specialist, but there are some symptoms you can In order for your eye care specialist to diagnose dry eye disease we look out for particular symptoms. The symptoms are also helpful in getting you to go to get your eyes treated. 

What are some of the symptoms of Dry eye disease?

The symptoms overlap with a number of other conditions such as allergies or actual foreign bodies in the eye. But the most common cause of a gritty, irritated dry eyes comes from dry eye disease.

The surface of the eye is covered by a tear film. When there is excessive evaporation or too little water being produced then at particular points in the tear film the water becomes very salty. The grittiness comes from these numerous small salty areas and this then can trigger a painful sensation. It’s also true that if the tear is of very poor quality, then there may actually be damage to the underlying surface of the eye. We often suggest to patients that they can think of it like a river bed when it is dry and the mud develops numerous small fine cracks over the surface. Each of these breaks can expose the underlying nerves and create the same gritty sensation as a bit of sand or salt in your eye.

How can my eye be watery if it is dry?

We know, it doesn’t seem to make sense, but your body initially responds to the increased saltiness or damage to the surface by pouring a lot of water over the surface of your eye. Because the tear film is actually primarily a gel layer, all this water can actually cause you to develop a watery eye. The quality of the water that is released is not sufficiently gel-based enough and it just runs down out of your eye, leaving dry patches on the surface, a bit like when water runs off a windscreen. 

What happens if I rub my sore eyes?

You probably already know this, but rubbing sore eyes or eyelids is a big no, no. It might bring you momentary relief, but the likelihood is, you’re stoking the fire and increasing levels of inflammation. Excessive rubbing of your sore eyes will make your eye muscles tired too and the increased blood pressure can manifest as pain. 

How can I treat Dry Eye Disease?

You might find that a gentle massage of the eyelids, following a hot compress (you can do this by using The Eye Doctor and following the heating and application instructions) will help with loosening any blockage in the glands in the eyelids which prevents your eye’s natural lubrication. Once you’ve applied the compress and completed a massage of the lid, you should start to feel some natural moisture returning. Be gentle and of course, if your symptoms worsen or progress, it might be time to speak to an eye health specialist or your GP.

Take good care of your eyes and make sure to keep the base of your lashes clean (we have wipes for that!), this will help prevent blockages which reduce lubrication and lead to your eyes becoming sore and dry.

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