Dry Eye Disease

Dry eye disease is a very common cause of ocular discomfort often leading to feelings of ocular fatigue, grittiness, stinging or variable vision. Book your free no obligation laser eye surgery screening today.

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What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye syndrome is common condition that becomes more common with age, especially in females. Up to a third of the population may have dry eyes or will have experienced dry eye symptoms at some point. Modern living, involving hours of computer or tablet use, smart phones and indoor heating or air-conditioning, can cause or make symptoms of dry eye worse.

People with dry eyes do not produce either enough tears or the appropriate quality that would allow their natural tear film to coat their eyes consistently and keep them moist. In addition, this in turn leads to them being unable to eliminate dust and other irritants from the eyes, which can exacerbate the symptoms. Occasionally, your eyelids may not be spreading the tears evenly over your cornea. 

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Eye drops can help with dry eye disease

Dry Eye Disease Causes & Symptoms

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In dry eye syndrome, a variety of symptoms may be present depending on the severity of the condition:

  • gritty, scratchy sensation
  • irritation and tired eyes
  • burning sensation
  • itchiness
  • tearing (watering) of the eyes
  • pain
  • blurred vision
  • fluctuation in vision
  • deterioration of symptoms with reading, computer work and towards the end of the day

What causes dry eye?

The tear film consists of three layers: the oily outer layer, the watery middle layer and the inner mucous layer. These components are produced by different glands of the eye and eyelids. When these glands are inflamed or their function is compromised, an imbalance between the water, oily and mucous components develops, and this results in an unstable tear film that evaporates easily and symptoms of dry eye. A variety of factors can affect this balance.

A number of reasons can result in dry eye symptoms:

  • smoking
  • ageing
  • systemic conditions such as menopause, Sjogrens syndrome, thyroid eye disease
  • certain medications, e.g. antihistamines, certain antidepressants and blood pressure medication
  • lid conditions, such as blepharitis and lagophthalmos
  • looking at screens for prolonged periods of time
  • warm dry environments
  • contact lens wear

How can dry eye be diagnosed?

Dry eye syndrome can be diagnosed by your optometrist (optician) or eye doctor (ophthalmologist). A detailed history is obtained regarding your general health, when the symptoms are more noticeable and what tasks or risk factors may be causing or exacerbating the condition.

A variety of tests can be carried out to understand the cause of your symptoms and dry eye. These may include a detailed assessment of your lids and ocular surface with the slit-lamp, the use of fluorescein dye to assess the tear film and health of the surface, a Schirmer’s test to assess the quantity of tear production, and an osmolarity test. 

How laser eye surgery can help

Contact lens wear is safe and most likely safer than ever. However, lenses do reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the top layer of the cornea, the epithelium, causing breakdown and dryness of the surface. Contact lens intolerance tends to develop with chronic wear over the years; symptoms include irritation, burning sensation, grittiness, dry eye and watery red eye. In more serious cases, corneal ulceration with potentially sight threatening infection can develop.

If you are experiencing dry eye syndrome or redness of the eyes with your contact lenses, you should immediately consider reducing the hours you wear the lenses or revert to using your glasses. This will reduce the risk of more serious complications. Other vision correction options, such as laser eye surgery, should be considered at this stage in order to keep your eyes safe. In fact, LASIK has been shown to reduce dry eye symptoms in patients who were experiencing dry eyes with their contact lens wear. 

Other dry eye treatments

The majority of patients will manage with one or two of the following measures. Occasionally, in severe dry eye syndrome, more or all of these measures may be required. Depending on the severity, it can take months or longer for your symptoms to improve. 

There is a plethora of artificial tear supplements or lubricant eye drops available over the counter and via prescription. In significant dry eye the use of drops without preservative (preservative-free) is recommended. Preservative-free lubricant drops can be used as often as required to relieve your symptoms, even every hour or more frequently. 

Punctal plugs can be used to block the punti (drainage openings) of the eyelids; the procedure is painless and reversible. The punctal plugs are made of silicone materials or collagen (dissolvable) and they work by preventing the drainage of your natural tears and keeping your eyes moist. 

Eating a healthy balanced diet, enriched with fruit, vegetables and unsaturated oils, is important in maintaining good health and preserving your vision. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly useful in preventing and treating dry eyes; they are considered to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the surface of the eyes and eyelid glands. Good dietary sources include salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, cauliflower, spinach and eggs. 

Dry eye symptoms are often caused by or exacerbated by the presence of inflammation of the eyelid margins, known as blepharitis. This condition can be treated by warm compresses of your eyelids, followed by gentle massaging of the lids. The aim is to encourage the flow of oils from within the lid glands and remove the dried oils and scales with bacteria from the lids. 

In moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, your eyes may remain uncomfortable despite the above measures. In such cases, drops that modify the immune status and response of the eye surface may help.


Steroid and ciclosporin drops reduce the inflammation associated with dry eye and can make your eyes more comfortable. Generally, steroids are used for a limited period of time as they can cause cataract and glaucoma with long-term use. Steroid sparing agents, such as ciclosporin, can be used in isolation or in conjunction with steroid drops. Ciclosporin drops, e.g. Ikervis, have a better safety profile but they can take a few months to improve your symptoms.

  • Air-conditioning. Try to avoid air being blown directly into your eyes or towards your face, as this causes your tears to evaporate. The same applies to when using hair dryers. When driving for prolonged periods, it is also advisable to alter the air vents of your car so they don’t blow directly into your eyes or towards your face.
  • Computer use. It is important to take frequent breaks and rest the eyes when on the computer. It is generally advised to have a 20 second break from computer work every 20 minutes. However, if you are experiencing dry eye symptoms you should make a conscious effort to blink more frequently, take breaks more frequently than every 20 minutes and use lubricant eye drops during your breaks.
  • Medication. If you are taking medication for high blood pressure or antihistamines, your general practitioner may be able to suggest a trial of alternative suitable medication.
  • Stop smoking. The harmful effect of smoking on the eyes and your overall health is well documented. Smoking has been implicated in dry eye syndrome, age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, heart disease and stroke.

Excellent 5-Star Patient Reviews

We're rated excellent on Trustpilot & average 5-stars on Google, Doctify and TopDoctor for the outstanding service we provide before, during & after treatment.

Hannah Gough
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An absolute dream
Aris and team made the whole procedure from start to finish an absolute dream. All questions answered in a language that anyone could understand, more detail given when requested. Calming even during the procedure. Appointments ran fairly late, so could go outside of work hours and travel. Everything was efficient, didn't have to chase, they handled all the faff around COVID like champs. Don't forget to enter your reg number on arrival to the hospital though!
Julie House
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My whol experience has been superb
I am today the morning after having completed presbyond surgery and I am absolutely delighted. The actual surgery was nothing to worry about and is completely pain free. I have spent my first night with slightly fuzzy vision and mildly gritty eyes but this really was the only side effect. This morning I opened my eyes to vision better than I can ever remember and on having my first check with Mr. Anderson it was confirmed I have 20/20 vision.
Victoria Lewis
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The ‘Gold Standard’ of laser eye surgery
Mr David Anderson is one of the leading Consultant Ophthalmologists which is why I chose him to perform my surgery. During the consultation I was very much assured that I was in good hands, but also having the ‘Gold Standard’ of laser eye surgery. It was explained that my best option was LASEK due to an eye infection rendering me contact lens intolerant. This also left me with a slightly reduced tear film... read more.
Anna Blackman
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I now have better than 20/20 vision
From start to finish, Mr Anderson and his team were wonderful!! Mr Anderson always took his time, explained every clearly and was happy to answer any questions. I now have better than 20/20 vision - and no more glasses 🙂 I would recommend Mr Anderson to anyone looking into laser eye surgery!
Lynn Farley-Rose
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I wish I hadn't waited so long
Following an injury to my cornea that never healed properly, I had phototherapeutic keratectomy. At all stages I have had the chance to ask plenty of questions and have been given balanced information. The procedure itself was done with great efficiency and professionalism from both the medical and nursing staff. Aftercare has also been good and I am entirely satisfied. I only wish I hadn't waited so long to have it done!
John Waterman
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Cannot recommend enough
The process was completely painless and quick. Any concerns you have to do with treatment whether it be the treatment itself, the aftercare... Dr Anderson will explain in detail and with patience. Also your are looked after so well by the nurses just before and after your treatment, they honestly couldn't do more to help you feel comfortable and relaxed. You are booked in for follow up treatments after your surgery and you feel like they really do care about how your eyes are and how much better your vision is, which is an incredible difference ,you feel like you aren't just a customer who they want in and out.
Graham Charlesworth
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I have been thoroughly impressed
I have been thoroughly impressed with the level of care and professionalism that Aris and his team have shown at all stages in the process. The initial assessment, the procedure itself and then follow-up consultations. Although this was something that I approached with much trepidation I am really happy with the way that it ended up and the path that I followed.

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