Maple Eye and Laser Center
Dry Eyes by Maple Eye and Laser Center

Dry Eyes

woman rubbing her eyes

If you have persistently felt that your eyes are sore, gritty, sandy or extremely tired, then you may be suffering from a syndrome commonly known as ‘dry eyes’. Dry eyes can be a chronic and progressive problem, that can have a number of underlying causes. However, in many cases there is treatment available to help manage them successfully, significantly reducing your symptoms and improving the comfort and mobility in your eyes.

Why do my eyes feel this way?

The surface of your eyes is covered with an ultra-thin invisible film of tears that act as a natural lubricant. These tears are produced by the lacrimal gland. However, over time this gland loses effectiveness and as you get older, you will naturally produce less tears. Sometimes the lacrimal gland begins to dry up earlier as a result of particular drugs.

As well as feeling very dry and scratchy, sometimes dry eyes can actually feel very watery. This is because the gland is not spreading the tears evenly, your eyes then become sore and start to water. When this happens it is sometimes referred to as evapourative dry eye.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes

The most common symptoms of dry eyes include:

- Stinging or burning

- A feeling as though sand or grit is in the eye

- Episodes of blurred vision

- Switching between very watery and very dry eyes

- Pain and redness in the eye

- Heavy eyelids

- Stringy discharge from the eye

- Eye fatigue

- Decreased ability to tolerate periods of sustained visual attentions such as working on the computer or watching television

- Inability to cry

- Contact lenses that are painful or uncomfortable to wear

Causes of Dry Eyes

Although dry eyes occur naturally with advancing age, there are also a number of other reasons that you might develop dry eyes. Whether or not your dry eyes are a temporary or a chronic condition will depend largely on what is causing them.

- Use of some medications, including antihistamines, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, birth control pills and some blood pressure medicine

- Diseases in or around the eye

- Pregnancy

- Hormone replacement therapy

- Allergies

- Immune system disorders such as Lupus

- Insufficient or overdose of vitamins

- As a result of LASIK refractive surgery

- Continual staring/infrequent blinking associated with prolonged periods of reading/watching tv/playing video games

- Smoking

Treatment for Dry Eye

The treatment that is most suited to your dry eyes will vary depending on what the underlying cause is in your personal circumstances.

If the cause of your dry eye is identified as something that means you will have to deal with dry eye as an ongoing condition, your optometrist will likely suggest that you speak to your medical consultant about treating any underlying conditions that you have, as this may improve your symptoms. Alternatively, he may recommend an anti-inflammatory medication such as cyclosporine, or the short-term use of corticosteroid eye drops.

If your dry eyes are a result of medication that you take, then you will probably be referred back to your doctor to see if there is an alternative course of treatment that you can take that does not have the side effect of dry eyes.

If you regularly wear contact lenses then you may be recommended to switch to glasses or at least reduce the amount of time you spend with your contacts in.

You may be able to use drops to help rehydrate the eyes. However, they are only a temporary relief and should speak to your eye specialist about a longer-term solution.

Make sure that you take regular eye-rests when you have to do extended periods of visual attention.

If you have any concerns about dry eyes, then we highly recommend that you speak to Dr. Howard Kornstein who will be happy to advise you.