What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?
- Feelings of dryness, grittiness or soreness that get worse during the day
- Red eyes
- Eyelids that stick together when you wake up
- Temporarily blurred vision, which usually improves when you blink
More severe symptoms of dry eye syndrome include extreme sensitivity to light (photophobia), very red and painful eyes, and deterioration in your vision.
If you have any of these severe symptoms, this can be a sign of a serious complication. Contact your optician or doctor immediately for appropriate advice.
What causes dry eyes?
Dry eye syndrome can occur when your eyes stop making tears as they usually would. Tears are an important part of your eye health. They help to keep your eyes lubricated, protect against infections, and clear away debris from the surface of your eyes.
Dry eye syndrome develops when there is a disruption in the production of tears – either that they evaporate too quickly, an issue with drainage, or that not enough tears are produced. This can happen for many reasons, either one or a combination of:
- Being in a hot or windy environment
- Wearing contact lenses
- Certain underlying medical conditions
- Side effects of certain medications
- Hormonal changes, such as during the menopause
What help is available?
Your optician may give you eye drops to lubricate your eyes or you could need medication to reduce inflammation. If necessary, surgery can prevent tears from draining away too easily.
If dry eye is caused by an underlying condition, treating this condition will usually help relieve the symptoms. If necessary, the optician may refer you for further tests.