Dry eye disease is experienced by around 1 in 5 Australians at some stage of their life, and is more common in older patients, smokers, patients who have eye surgery, and in women over the age of 50.
Dry eye disease has a variety of causes and consequences. Patients suffering from dry eye will experience symptoms including; eye inflammation, eye irritation, feelings of warmth, heat or the sensation of a foreign body on the eye surface, dry, sore or aching eyes, eye fatigue and, in extreme cases, scratching or scarring of the front surface of the eye (the cornea).
Ironically, a common symptom of dry eye is excess tears (‘epiphora’), where there is an overproduction of water running out of the eyes. This is often embarrassing to the sufferer as they are often thought to be crying.
Dry eye is the result of an inadequate or low-quality tear film on the surface of the eye. Tears are an important contributor to the health of our eyes and assist in the lubrication between the eye and eyelids. The tear film is made up of 3 layers; an oily layer, a water layer and a mucous layer.
Each layer of the tear film serves a purpose in ensuring the adequate lubrication, cleanliness and health of the eye. Dry eye arises where there is an issue with one or more of these tear film layers, and treatment will vary depending on which layer is deficient. Technically, the tear film itself is the main refracting layer of the eyes and tear film quality is essential for clear and stable vision.
Research has shown that dry eye disease is increasing in prevalence in Australia and has been linked to our exposure to ‘blue light’, the light emitted from the screens of monitors, TVs and handheld devices.
If you regularly experience symptoms of dry eye, we encourage you to make an appointment for an eye exam with our optometrist here in the Hills District.
Our optometrist is experienced in the treatment and resolution of dry eye syndrome and will work with you to determine a treatment plan to combat this condition that is tailored to your specific tear film issues. This will factor in lifestyle and environment factors (including screen time, contact lens wear habits, cosmetics, smoking, medication, air quality and history of previous eye surgery) and pharmaceutical factors including medication and eye drop usage.