Dry eye syndrome is a common condition that affects one in five adults and can significantly impair the quality of life.
Tears lubricate the eye and stop the surface from drying out. A thin film of tears is swept over the eye surface every time you blink. A watery layer of tears is topped with an even thinner coat of lipids (fatty compounds) that help to preserve the film. To maintain eye comfort and health, the tear film needs to remain intact between blinks.
Dry eye can afflict anyone of any age, but is more common as we get older because we produce a smaller volume of tears. Some medications can trigger dry eye, as can some general health conditions. Dry eye is particularly common in postmenopausal women and people with arthritis.
People with dry eyes typically find it difficult to wear contact lenses. Dry eye sufferers may also have more problems in environments such as air-conditioned offices or supermarkets.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye can cause many different symptoms for different people. Common symptoms may include:
- Stinging or burning
- Blurred vision
- Watery eyes
- Tired eyes
- Sticky eyes upon waking
- Gritty eyes
- Feeling like there is something foreign in the eye
It is interesting that a major symptom of dry eye can often be watery eyes. This happens because when the surface of the eye becomes dry the eye will produce reflex tears which causes the excess watering. Unfortunately these tears are too watery and don’t have the special oil and mucous which allows them to lubricate the eye properly.