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What is Dry Eye?
Dry Eye is a common condition which mostly affects women and the elderly but it can occur at any age and can happen to anyone. Dry Eye is a condition in which the tear glands do not work properly and so the amount or quality of tears in the eyes are reduced.
What causes it?
It is quite common to not know why a person suffers this condition. In a few people the condition is caused by another disease that they also suffer from (for example, some types of arthritis).
What you might experience:
The eyes can feel:
Can it damage my eyesight?
If the condition is not properly treated, yes it can, although this is not common. The eye becomes vulnerable to infections and to corneal ulcers if severely dry which can cause scarring and permanently affect the sight. With appropriate care and treatment these problems can usually be prevented.
What treatment is needed?
Artificial tears can be used to lubricate the eyes. These are available in several different forms, drops and gels for daytime use and ointments (which tend to be rather greasy) are for use at bedtime. You will need to learn how to put artificial tears into your eyes correctly for the most effective treatment. Artificial tears should be used as often as required to keep the symptoms of dry eye away. You can start off using the treatment fairly frequently (every two hours), gradually reducing down until the symptoms are controlled. The number of drops used will depend upon how dry your eyes actually are.
For severely dry eyes you might need to have your tear ducts blocked. Tear ducts can be blocked in two ways:
- A tiny plastic plug can be inserted into the tear duct opening, this is temporary and can be removed at any time if, for example, it caused your eye to water.
- The tear duct can be cauterized. This requires a small injection of local anaesthetic and offers a permanent solution.
Your consultant would discuss all treatment options with you in detail to establish the best treatment for you.
Who will I see for treatment?
For assessment and treatment of dry eyes see our Corneal & External Eye Disease Specialists: Mr Ghosh.