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

Marcus Green
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No More Glasses!!!
Aris and the team at the Laser Vision Eye Centre have been amazing! I had my eyes done last weekend and the whole process was really well organised. They answered all my questions and made sure I knew exactly what would happen. My vision is perfect now and I don't need to wear glasses any more. Awesome!! 😀 I would definitely recommend Aris and the Laser Vision Eye Centre.
Jemma Cheung
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Fantastic... PRESBYOND laser procedure
Dr Aris gave me complete confidence in the procedure I was having. At all times I felt I was in very able hands. I choose to have PRESBYOND laser treatment as I lost my reading vision and I had to wear glasses all the time - and I absolutely hated it! With this treatment I am now 3 months after the procedure and can see with great ease and I am enjoying life with out glasses. We achieved better results than ever anticipated.
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.
Mollie
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Excellent Care
I received excellent care throughout my experience at Laser Vision Eye Centre under the clinical leadership of Mr David Anderson. Everything was explained before and as the procedure was carried out. The waiting time for the procedure was considerably shorter than on the NHS and I even received a telephone call from the hospital the next day to check that all was well.
Cheryl Parish
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Life changing experience
I have been very impressed by the level of pre op information given enabling me to make a knowledgeable decision on how to proceed. Mr ANDERSON explained exactly what was going on throughout, which really helped me feel reassured and safe. Post op the aftercare has been amazing, staff even called on a Sunday to check how I was feeling. I would not hesitate to recommend this clinic to everyone.
John Waterman
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LASIK Presbyond Bilateral Laser Surgery
I recently underwent LASIK Presbyond surgery at the Wessex Nuffield Hospital. The surgery was performed by David Anderson and Aris Konstantopoulos and their incredible colleagues. I am so pleased I chose David and his team to carry out the procedure as the attention to detail both before, during and after surgery has been exceptional. Look no further 👀 this is the A Team! I can now write this review without the need for glasses.
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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