Dry eye syndrome is caused by the eye’s inability to maintain a healthy layer of tears to coat it and our eyes (specifically the cornea) becomes dehydrated. Although a common condition, women (especially after menopause) and people aged over 40 are more susceptible to the problem. Air-conditioning and prolonged computer use can also aggravate the problem.
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What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry eye symptoms can include:
- Burning or aching sensations
- Itchy or sore eyes
- Heavy or fatigued eyes
- Red eyes
- Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
- Blurred vision.
Ironically, another symptom of dry eyes is watery eyes. This is because the surface of a dry eye will often produce more tears as a protective measure.
How do you treat dry eyes?
Depending on the cause and severity, it may not be possible to completely cure dry eyes. However, there are options to manage the condition. Your optometrist may recommend one or more of the following:
- Lubricating eye drops
- Omega-3 supplements
- Take frequent breaks whilst working at a computer
- Blink frequently
- Wear sunnies with good UV protection.
If you have a severe case of dry eyes your optometrist will discuss alternative treatment options with you.
Protect your eyes
Did you know that, like your skin, it’s possible to burn your eyes? It’s called photokeratitis and symptoms include redness of the eyes, discomfort and sensitivity to light. To help prevent this condition it’s important to wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection and photochromatic lenses. Also try to avoid sun exposure between 10am and 2pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Extra care should be taken with babies and children, whose eyes are more sensitive.