What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome (sometimes known as dry eye disease) is a common condition that happens when your eyes don’t produce enough tears or if the quality of your tears isn’t quite right. This doesn’t mean that you can’t cry and in some cases your eyes can water more.

The function of the tears is to keep the front surface of the eye (the cornea) moist and healthy. So when the tear supply is reduced or of poor quality, your eyes can feel itchy and uncomfortable.

Dry eye treatment

It’s fairly straightforward to treat dry eye syndrome and make your eyes feel more comfortable.

  • Applying a heated eye mask to closed eyelids, twice a day for 10 minutes, can help to soften and loosen any blocked oil in the glands along the eyelid that supply oil into your tears.
  • After you take off the eye mask, use a clean finger to gently massage your eyelids – this helps to get the oil flowing from the glands.
  • Cleaning your eyelids each day with lid scrubs, wipes or foams can help to remove bacteria, debris and oil that can lead to blockage of the glands and dry eye syndrome.
  • Using preservative-free dry eye drops (lubricants) can ease the symptoms. These drops can be used as often as needed, depending on your symptoms. Usually, you’d start using them two or three times a day.
  • Dry eye drops will help with the symptoms, but it’s important to target the underlying causes of dry eye by carrying out steps one and two.
  • If it’s thought that dry eye syndrome is caused by a medication you’re taking or an underlying medical condition, you should discuss this with your GP.
  • If medication is aggravating symptoms, your GP may try switching you to an alternative. If your dry eye is thought to be caused by an underlying condition, then treating that condition will usually help to relieve the symptoms.
  • If you’re a contact lens wearer, it can sometimes help to take a break from wearing your lenses or change to a different lens material.
  • You could also use contact lens-friendly dry eye drops onto your lenses before you apply them each day, and then apply them during the day while you’re wearing your lenses.
  • In more severe cases, surgery might be an option to prevent tears from draining away too easily, by plugging the tear duct which drains the tears.
  • It has now been recognised that having a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help to manage dry eye syndrome. Omega-3 nutritional supplements can be effective as well. Maintaining a good intake of fluid and making sure you don’t become dehydrated can help reduce the severity of dry eye syndrome.
  • Avoiding smoky or very dry air-conditioned environments as much as possible can help with the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

Specsavers antibacterial dry eye compress

Dry eye drops

Dry eye drops provide some welcome relief from dry eyes as well as some extra comfort for contact lens wearers.

Features and benefits of dry eye drops

As well as helping with dry eye symptoms, our range of dry eye drops don’t contain any preservatives, so as not to interfere with the delicate structure of your tear film. They’re also contact lens-friendly, so you can use them while you’re wearing your lenses.

Which dry eye drop is right for me?

There are different types of dry eye drops to suit different levels of dry eye. Have a chat with our team in store, or your pharmacist, who will be able to recommend the right type for you.

If you have any concerns about your eye health, contact or visit your local Specsavers store immediately – even if you do not have an appointment.


Is dry eye syndrome permanent?

Dry eye can be temporary or chronic, but if you’ve had it once it’s likely you’ll get it again at some point. Often it can come and go in certain situations and throughout your life.

Does drinking water help dry eyes?

When you’re dehydrated, your body tries to keep as much fluid in the body – so you won’t go to the loo and your eyes and mouth can feel dry. So it’s important you try to keep hydrated so that your body can properly produce the tears your eyes need to stay healthy.

Can alcohol cause dry eyes?

Consuming alcohol can dehydrate your body and may therefore reduce the volume of tears your eyes produce. When there is not enough fluid to lubricate the eye, you might experience symptoms of dry eye as a result. Alongside lubricating your eyes, tears help protect eyes against infection and foreign objects, such as dust particles.