Confusingly 'a dry eye ' is not always a tired, scratchy, red eye, it maybe an itchy or even a watery eye.
The underlying cause of dry or watery eyes maybe the same, an imbalance in the make-up of your lubricating tear film, so treatments may be similar.
Dryness or excessive tearing occurs when your natural tear-film which lubricates the front surface of your eye becomes abnormal: instead of providing a smooth, optically clear surface between blinks it 'breaks-up' . This can result in bloodshot eyes, discomfort and even poor vision.
If treatment is started early remedies can be very simple but only your optometrist can differentiate between a simple 'dry eye' or an eye condition that requires further investigation or treatment by an ophthalmologist within a hospital eye clinic.
A dry or watery eye may just seem like minor inconvenience but it could be a symptom of serious eye or systemic disease.
'Dry Eye' Treatments – Your optometrist is the best person to advise on the best options for you, but this is not something that s/he can decide by having a quick chat in the waiting room. You will need an appointment so your optometrist can learn more about you, your lifestyle and any medications you are taking and to use some magnifying equipment and special optical dyes to get a good look at your eyes.
- If you have not had a sight test for over a year then it is probably best to book a full consultation just in case your sore, bloodshot eyes are not just due to a 'dry eye'.
- If you have had a recent eye test, but at that time your eyes looked OK and you didn't mention any discomfort but they are now causing you concern you may not need a full eye test, just an anterior eye examination. (In England this would need to be a private appointment, the NHS will not pay your optometrist for this type of test).
New formulations and treatments for 'dry eye' are constantly being released onto the market, so it is important to keep in touch with your Eye Care Practitioner if you want to have comfortable eyes.
Dry eye is very rarely cured, but with treatment symptoms should subside and your eyes will feel more comfortable – often to the extent you think yourself cured and stop the drops and/or treatments. But then a few weeks later the old symptoms will reoccur.
If you are already using eye drops but your eyes still feel sore then:
- you might need to change to a different lubricating formulation – not all drops have the same action
- your eyes could be reacting to the solution's preservatives – in which case you may need different drops with a different preservative, or to use preservative free 'minims'.