Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition. It can affect anyone but is more common as we get older and is particularly prevalent with women due to changes with hormones. Eyes can feel dry, gritty, sore, watery, uncomfortable and sometimes painful. The vision becomes more variable, but often gets better with a good blink. The eyes can appear red and puffy.
Dry eye syndrome is hugely variable ranging from very mild infrequent discomfort to persistent pain. What symptoms people experience varies greatly. Dry eye syndrome is caused by a poor tear film. The tear film is a layer of tears that covers the front of the eye protecting the surface(cornea). There are a variety of reasons for the tear film to be disrupted. Often the main culprits are Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Disfunction.
Blepharitis in most cases starts of as a mild bacterial infection caused by bacteria that are always on your eye lids. It can flare up at any point but is more common when you have been run down. Your body clears up the initial infection but you are left with crusty bits on the eye lashes and minor swelling of the edge of the eyelids. This is very small and most cases can’t be seen without the use of a microscope.
Treating blepharitis requires manually cleaning the lids . We recommend using a solution called Blephasol which is designed to remove the crustiness. It often needs to be done twice a day for 1-2 weeks and then phasing out.
Meibomian Gland Disfunction
Meibomian Gland Disfunction or MGD is often linked to blepharitis but not always. This is when the glands in your eyelids that produce the oil that goes into your tears get blocked. The oil is vital to stopping the tears from drying out, the eyes from watering and keeping your vision clear.
A hot compress is the best way to get these glands to open and to improve the oil flow. This can be done with a warm flannel, but the temperature will drop fairly quickly. For longer treatment and better results an Eyebag will keep it’s heat for longer. This is an eyemask that is quick to heat up in the microwave but keeps it’s heat for much longer. Again frequent use of this is needed for getting the glands to open.
What to do?
Although the pictures above look dramatic, most cases appear much milder than this. A detailed eye examination will help find the causes and establish at treatment regime. Discuss your concerns with your optometrist and we can start to get your eyes more comfortable again.