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McBride and McCreesh Opticians, Helping You to Manage Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a long-term eye condition that can have a significant impact on your quality of life, affecting your daily activities such as reading, driving and using your computer etc. In recent years, there have been advancements in the treatment available for dry eye syndrome thus reducing pain and discomfort, consequently improving quality of life. Having completed a course in ‘dry eye management’ in 2013, Dr Brendan McCreesh is certified to diagnose and recommend the latest treatment regimes to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye conditions.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry-Eye-McBride-McCreesh-Opticians-Enniskillen

Image: Scope Ophthalmics, 2014

Normally the eyes are kept moist by the tears that bathe the surface.  The action of blinking spreads these tears across the surface of the eyes.  Tears contain important substances that lubricate the eyes, keeping them free from dust, prevent infection and slow down evaporation of the tears.  Dry eye is one of the most common of all eye conditions.  Although it predominantly affects older people, it can occur at any age.  It is also more common in women.  Dry eye can occur for several reasons – either because you do not make enough tears or because your tears evaporate too quickly.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

Stinging, burning or a gritty feeling that something is in your eyes are common symptoms.  Your eyes may look red, feel dry and heavy and become sensitive to bright light. You may also experience blurred vision.  Furthermore, stringy mucus may collect on the lids and symptoms may be worst when you first wake up, but improve as the day goes on, or vice versa.

Symptoms can be triggered by a variety of factors:

1. Being in an air-conditioned, windy or hot environment.
2. Hormonal changes.
3. Long term medical conditions including Sjögren’s Syndrome.
4. Wearing contact lenses.
5. Side effects of certain medications, including HRT or preservatives in eye drops or antihistamines.
6. Activities that make you blink less often, e.g. reading, driving, working at a computer or watching television.
7. Exposure to fumes, dust and cigarette smoke can be particularly aggravating.
8. Age – the risk of dry eye syndrome increases significantly for people over 65.

Can I Still Have Dry Eye If My Eyes Water?

Yes, this is possible.  Occasionally your eyes may be so irritated by dryness that the glands in the eyelids produce more tears to compensate, causing your eyes to water.  Symptoms may persist because of poor quality tears.

Do I Need Any Tests?

Opticians Helen and Brendan can examine your eyes, assessing the amount of tears you produce and checking for any damage to the surface of the eyes.  Furthermore, they can advise you about treatment, and ways of keeping your eyes moist.  Occasionally, in more severe cases patients may be referred to an eye specialist at the hospital.

How Can My Eyes Be Treated?

Eye drops, gels and ointments to lubricate the eyes are the core treatment for dry eye syndrome and are available with or without prescription from McBride and McCreesh Opticians.  Generally, eye drops can be used as often as needed to keep your eyes comfortable.  This may vary from a few times a day to every hour.  If you need to use them very frequently, then try to avoid those containing preservatives, which can irritate your eyes. Ointment and gels tend to give longer-lasting, overnight protection. Special wrap-around spectacles can also be purchased from McBride and McCreesh Opticians to stop the wind drying your eyes. Severe dry eye can be relieved by blocking the tiny channels that drain tears into the nose.  This may help to keep your eyes moist, and can be a permanent or temporary treatment.

How to Help Yourself

1. Follow your treatment plan as directed by your optician.
2. Lower the level of your computer monitor, so that your eyes are looking downwards while you work.  This will slow down evaporation of your tears.
3. Adjust the brightness of your TV, computer, iPad etc.
4. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body well hydrated.
5. Use a humidifier at home or at work, especially where there is air-conditioning.
6. Be aware of situations where you may blink less often, e.g. when reading, watching television and looking at a computer monitor, and try to blink more frequently when concentrating on these tasks.
7. Wear wrap-around spectacles when you are outside to stop the wind drying your eyes.
8. Avoid places where there are fumes, dust or smoke, which can irritate your eyes.
9. Careful bathing of the eyelids can help to improve the quality of your tears, so that they moisturise better and last longer on the surface of the eye.
10. Consider including more Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet or as a supplement.
11. Ensure that your contact lenses feel comfortable when you are wearing them. Consider Johnson and Johnson 1-DAY ACUVUE® MOIST® with LACREON® Technology, which permanently embeds a moisture-rich wetting agent, so wearers experience exceptional comfort throughout the day.

Principal optician Brendan has also devised a lid hygiene treatment method. Click here to read more.

Life without Treatment?

Remember without treatment your dry eye condition will continue, as will the pain and discomfort. As a result, complications such as scaring of the cornea can occur, leading to complications that are more serious. Furthermore, it is important to continue with your recommended treatment regime for the recommended period, as symptoms can return and possibly worsen if stopped too early.

For further information on dry eye management, please contact McBride and McCreesh Opticians on 028 66322524 for individual advice and to arrange an appointment. Alternatively book online here.

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