Over the past few years statistics and research into dry eye disease has found that this common eye condition is increasing. Both in the UK and US, researchers* have found rates of people being diagnosed with dry eye disease are doubling. Studies into why the rates of dry eye syndrome are growing indicate a number of reasons for the heightened risk factor, both in adults and children. Leaving many optometrists considering the lifestyles of their patients when providing them with medical advice and managment solutions. This guide not only helps to explain why dry eye occurs and its causes but the reasons for why now, more than ever, cases of dry eye disease are being diagnosed across the world.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD as it is often called, is the main cause of dry eye disease in most cases seen by opticians. The Meibomian gland is responsible for producing an oil called meibum. A combination of meibum, water, and mucus within the eye helps to form the three layers of tear film that keeps your eyes moist. When the Meibomian gland malfunctions, either because the amount or quality of oil changes or the glands themselves get clogged, dry eye is likely to occur.
One of the main reasons for the Meibomian gland to malfunction is age. Which is often why the majority of cases of dry eye occur in people aged over 65. However, it has also been found that women tend to be more at risk of dry eye as well as people with an Asian ancestry.
Other reasons can be related to different types of medication being taken for other health concerns. This will often be detailed as a side effect when prescribed by a doctor. It’s always a good idea to discuss the side effects of medication before taking it so you are aware of such issues arising.
Contact lenses and dry eye disease
If you are a daily or frequent contact lens wearer you may also be more likely to get dry eyes. Feelings of itchy, sore, gritty, and sensitive eyes are often associated with contact lenses. Since placing a contact lens directly on the eye can restrict the oxygen flow to the eye, the production of tears within the eye can often be reduced. Impacting the moisture of the eye and causing irritation and dry eye syndrome symptoms.
Other lifestyle-related causes of dry eye include screen time and your living/working environment.
When a person is looking at a screen the number of blinks tends to decrease or the blinks are incomplete. Blinking is an important part of keeping the eyes moist, and when this doesn’t happen often the tears will evaporate faster, subsequently leading to dry eye disease.
Those who spend lots of time looking at screens, particularly those in office working environments, may experience a range of common eye problems including dry eye and eye strain. It is important to take regular short breaks when working on a computer screen, following the 20/20/20 rule is a simple way to do this.
Your environment can also cause your tears to evaporate faster than they should. Spending lots of time in a heated or air-conditioned room can reduce the moisture in your eyes causing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. It is important in this case to allow some moisture into the air, either by opening a window or using a humidifier to stop the air from getting dry.
How optical instruments can manage dye eye disease
Most people, when dealing with symptoms of dry eye will turn to eye drops from a pharmacy or their optician for quick and satisfying relief. Although eye drops are perfectly acceptable and effective temporary solutions, they do not provide a long-lasting management solution for dry eye syndrome.
If you continue to suffer with dry eye symptoms after several weeks and using eye drops, you should book an appointment with your optician. They will be able to offer you procedures to manage dry eye syndrome with longer-lasting results.
Optical instruments such as the TearStim and E-Eye utilise innovative technology to stimulate the Meibomian glands in the eyes to return them to a normal working function. This leads to greater and more effective results that can last several years, following 3 or 4 sessions of the short and pain-free procedure.
Book an optician appointment
Book an appointment with an Essilor Expert to access some of the best procedures for managing dry eye syndrome. With access to Essilor optical instruments and lens solutions and in-house dry eye clinics, you will receive the very best care for your dry eye. Find your nearest Essilor partner optician offering an in-house dry eye clinic with our optician finder tool and book your appointment today.