Dry eye is a common condition that may be caused because your eyes do not produce enough tears, or because the tears that you have evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly across the front of your eye.

The symptoms are usually in both eyes.

Dry eye can make your eye feel scratchy or irritated. In severe cases it may temporarily make your vision blurry.

It can be uncomfortable, but rarely causes serious eye damage. This leaflet aims to help you understand the causes of dry eye and what you can do to help yourself.


What is dry eye?

Dry eye is a chronic (long-term) condition. This means that once you have had it, it can come back even after it has cleared up. It often affects both eyes, but one eye may be worse than the other. There are several treatments for dry eye, and you can do some of these at home. Dry eye does not normally cause permanent problems with your sight, but in severe cases it can become very painful and cause permanent damage to the front of your eye.


Who is at risk of dry eye?

Dry eye is more common in women and in people aged over 65. It is often just a symptom of getting older. This is because as you get older, your eyelids are not as effective at spreading your tears across your eyes when you blink. Also, the glands in your eyelids that produce the oily part of your tears become less effective as you get older. In some people these glands, which are called meibomian glands, can become blocked and the lids may become red and uncomfortable.

This is a condition called blepharitis, and we have produced a separate leaflet on this.
Some drugs or health problems may affect your tear film. In women, changes in hormone levels, for example during the menopause, pregnancy or while using the contraceptive pill, can increase the risk of dry eye. Your doctor or optometrist will be able to give you advice on this.


What if I wear contact lenses?

Some people find that if they wear contact lenses their eyes may feel dry. This may be worse with some types of lenses than others. If you notice this, you may find that changing to a different type of contact lens or reducing the amount of time you wear your lenses will help you. Make sure you mention this when you go for your contact lens check-up so that your optometrist can suggest what to do about it.


Using a computer

Some people find that their eyes feel dry while they are looking at a computer screen (or afterwards). There is no evidence that looking at a computer screen does your eyes any harm, but it may make you blink less often. We recommend that when you use a computer you make sure you blink often and try and look away from the screen regularly, just for a few seconds, to give your eyes a rest.


What can I do about dry eye?

Once your optometrist knows what is causing your dry eye, they can give you advice on how to manage it


For any more information please contact us