dry itchy eyes

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye means that your eyes may not be making enough tears, that the tears which are being produced are of poor quality or that the tears that are produced evaporate away. The normal function of tears is to keep the surface of the eye wet and lubricated so any shortage of tears or reduction in their quality can produce a gritty, burning sensation of the eyes and can also disturb vision.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include:

  • Dryness
  • Burning, stinging or itching
  • Gritty feeling
  • Irritation from wind or smoke
  • Blurred or smeary vision
  • Tired eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Excessive watering
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Contact lens discomfort

What are the causes of Dry Eye?

Dry eye can be caused by a wide variety of everyday factors and include:

  • Aging
  • Blepharitis
  • Dry environment and pollution
  • Computer use
  • Contact lens wear
  • LASIK surgery
  • Preservatives
  • Hormonal changes, especially in women e.g. menopause
  • Dry eye may also be symptomatic of general health problems or disease e.g. people with arthritis are more prone to dry eye (Sjogren’s Syndrome = arthritis + dry eye + dry mouth)
  • Certain types of medications (anti-acne, some beta-blockers, oral contraceptives, antihistamines, diuretics, decongestants, alcohol & anti-depressants…) CAUTION: do not alter or adjust your prescribed medicines without discussing with your Doctor). Your optometrist or Doctor can advise of any known links between medicines and dry eye.

How is Dry Eye treated?

In some cases patient’s symptoms can be relieved simply by altering the external influences above. Environmental factors can be helped by making simple changes – for example avoidance of dehydrating environments such as air conditioning; if your job involves lots of computer work take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Protecting the eye from dehydrating influences such as a cold wind by wearing spectacles or sunglasses may also help.

Tears must be distributed efficiently, replaced or conserved in order to provide relief. As dry eye syndrome is caused by an imbalance of tears on the eye’s surface the most logical way to treat the problem is to artificially replace the tears and by so doing improve both quantity and quality. Even a watery eye can be caused by the tears evaporating. This results in dry patches which the eye tries to correct by a flood of watery tears.  Sometimes too much tear flow just needs better lubrication; think of a car engine with water in it, it will be wet but will not be well lubricated. There are a variety of artificial tears available and you will be advised the best option for your particular problem and how to use your treatment.

In severe cases of dry eye punctum plugging is available, where tiny little plugs are put into the tear ducts to prevent the tears draining away.

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis refers to inflammation of the eyelids. Oils and other products normally secreted by the eye and eyelids build up on the lid surface and eyelashes resulting in eye irritation and often redness. It’s a common disorder and occurs in two forms:

  • Anterior Blepharitis – this is when the inflammation affects the outside front edge of your eyelids, where your eyelashes are connected. Two possible causes are bacterial infection and Seborrhoeic dermatitis.
  • Posterior Blepharitis – this is when the inflammation affects the inside front edge of your eyelids, where they come into contact with your eye.  This is caused when something affects the glands that are found at the rim of your eyelids, for example skin conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis or acne rosacea.

         

Signs & Symptoms

Regardless of which type of blepharitis you have, you will probably experience such symptoms as eye irritation, burning, tearing, foreign body sensations, crusty debris (in the lashes, in the corner of the eyes or on the lids), dryness and red eyelid margins.

How can eyelid hygiene help?

Developing a regular routine of eye hygiene is essential in the treatment of blepharitis as it tends to recur and rarely disappears completely. It is important that you clean your eyelids every day, whether or not you are experiencing any symptoms. You should consider it part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth. Daily eyelid care helps prevent the build up of oils and crusted matter around the eyelid and lash area.

Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis you have. It may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleansing them, using an antibiotic and massaging the lids. If your blepharitis makes your eyes feel dry (usually because your tears evaporate more quickly) you may be recommended to use artificial tears.

The warm compresses are designed to both loosen crusts on your eyes before you cleanse them and make the tear secretions more liquid and less greasy. Wash your hands then dampen a clean washcloth with warm water and place it over your closed eyes for a 5 to 10 minute period.

Cleansing the eyelids is essential to blepharitis treatment. You may be recommended to clean them with a special over-the-counter product specifically made for cleansing the eyelids (see overleaf). When you first begin treatment you may have to cleanse your lids several times a day. When the eyes feel better from the lid hygiene (usually after about 3 weeks) treatment can be done once a day. Remember, to stop treatment altogether will probably result in a recurrence of problems. Only regular lid hygiene will keep the blepharitis under control.

The complete eyelid hygiene system

Blephasol and Blephaclean have been specially formulated to be FREE from preservatives and perfumes by Europe’s leading independent ophthalmology company to be kind to your eyes and skin.

Blephasol® – A unique mode of action:

  • A high tolerance micelle solution
  • Lid margin and skin cleansing
  • Preservative and perfume free
  • Easy to use 100ml bottle, with no need to mix or rinse afterwards

Use Blephasol as directed, usually once or twice a day. Put solution on to a cotton wool pad or gauze and gently wipe along the lower inner eyelid, the upper and lower eyelids and lash area to remove accumilated oily debris and crusted matter from the eyelid and lash


Blephaclean
®

  • A high tolerance micelle solution
  • 20 ready to use sterile pads
  • Hygiene and repair of eyelids and the lid margin
  • Preservative and perfume free
  • No need to rinse afterwards
  • Hyaluronic Acid – a natural hydrating and repairing agent
  • Iris Florentina and Centella Asiatica content. Helps to stimulate synthesis of collagen and has an anti-inflammatory action.

Use Blephaclean as directed, usually once or twice a day. Simply remove wipe from sachet and gently wipe along the lower inner eyelid, the upper and lower eyelids and lash area to remove accumilated oily debris and crusted matter from the eyelid and lash area. There is no need to rinse afterwards. Repeat for the other eye using a new wipe.

Blephagel® Airless

  • Paraben & Perfume Free
  • Suitable for sensitive skin, eyelids & eyes
  • Can be recommended to contact lens wearers
  • Provides a sensation of freshness
  • Softens and soothes the eyelids
  • Non sticky/greasy product
  • 94% of users consider it easy to use

Use Blephagel as directed, on average twice a day. Apply a small amount of Blephagel to a cotton wool pad or gauze. With your eye closed, delicately apply on eyelids and lash roots. Using small circular movements gently rub eyelids and lash roots with pad until all residues are removed. Remove left over Blephagel with a clean pad. Repeat for the other eye using a new pad. If preferred Blephagel can be left on overnight and gently wiped away in the morning.

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