Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a very common eye condition caused by a lack or disturbance to the tear film on the surface of the eye. The population most affected tend to be patients over 40 years old with higher prevalence in women, this could be attributed to hormonal fluctuations. It is classified as a chronic eye problem.


Symptoms include:

  • Dry, itchy, scratchy, burning sensations;
  • Excessive tear production;
  • Difficulty opening eyes due to crusty discharge on waking; and
  • Foreign body sensation.

What causes dry eye?

Patients who display dry eye syndrome, often the lacrimal gland and associated glands in the eye do not produce enough tears.

Other factors include:

  • Increased incidence with age;
  • Medications (antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control, Parkinson's disease);
  • Environmental (live in dusty, windy environments or exposed to air-conditioning/heating);
  • Long term contact lens wear; and
  • Systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and rosacea.

Treatment

  • Artificial tear lubricants;
  • Punctal plugs – temporary or permanent; and
  • Prescription eye drops such as topical cyclosporin.


Blepharitis (commonly associated with dry eye)

Blepharitis is described as an inflammation of the eyelids. It commonly affects the margins of the eyelids. It tends to be a chronic condition and both eyes are normally affected.

Symptoms include:

  • Sore, inflamed eyelids;
  • Sticky discharge, eyelids stuck together on waking; and
  • Scaly, dandruff-like flakes on eyelids.


Treatment:

  • Regular eyelid hygiene;
  • Warm compresses; and
  • Massage after using warm compresses.