Address: 336 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7JJ. Tel: 01702 346828
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9.00am to 5.30pm. [Closed for lunch 1.30pm to 2.30pm.] Saturday 9.00am to 2.00pm.
Do you have burning, gritty or sore and red eyes? Do you get blurry vision, especially using a computer or tablet? If so, then you may well be suffering from dry eyes and would benefit from a dry eye assessment at our practice in Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex to discover the cause of the problem and the appropriate treatment options.
Dry eyes, or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, occurs when there is a failure of the tear film to keep the front surface of the eye moist and well lubricated. Dry eye is one of the most commonly reported ocular conditions and can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating. The condition has been reported to affect up to 30% of the adult population and can also affect children as well. It is more commen in women than men, particularly after the menopause, probably due to hormonal changes.
The symptoms of dry eyes can include grittiness, general irritation, sensitivity to light, a foreign body sensation, burning and often intermittant blurred vision. Paradoxically, very watery eyes can also be a symptom of dry eyes. This occurs because the dryness of the eye's surface causes the brain to over-produce the watery component of tears as a protective mechanism.
There are three layers to the tear film, all of which must work properly for healthy functioning of the eye and to prevent dry eyes:
- The outer, oily lipid layer. This prevents evaporation and is produced by meibomian glands in the eyelids
- The middle, watery layer, produced by the lacrimal glands above the outer edge of the eye
- The innermost, mucous layer which is produced by specialised cells in the conjunctiva and helps stick the tears to the surface of the eye
There are many factors that can cause dry eyes, the most common of which are:
- Meibomian Gland Disease - this is responsible for 80% of dry eye problems
- Age - this affects both sexes, but women more than men
- Side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines and some blood pressure drugs
- Poor diet
- Staring at computers or smart phones
- Dry and air conditioned offices
- Hot, dusty environments
- Some systemic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogrens Syndrome
- Contact lens wear, although new materials can help reduce or eliminate this
Whilst dry eye can be a very difficult condition to cure, there are many treatments and measures that can be taken to help alleviate the discomfort that comes with the condition:
- Drinking plenty of water to keep the tear film as hydrated as possible
- Eating oily fish, such as salmon, herring and sardines. These contain Omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to help with symptom reduction and which cannot be produced by your body
- Linseed, or flaxseed, which is also very high in Omega 3 has also been shown to help. This is available in capsules as well as seed form
- Artificial tear drops, which act as a glue to help keep the tears in place on the eye
- Warm lid compresses to help free up blocked meibomian glands, combined with lid massage to express the meibum. We recommend the Eye Doctor and Eyepeace lid massaging system for this. Click here for a clinical study on the effectiveness of the Eyepeace lid massager
- Good lid hygeine
- Punctal plugs to prevent the tears draining away too quickly
- ICD mini-scleral contact lenses, which protect and hydrate the cornea with a bath of saline solution
If blocked Meibomian glands are discovered during the dry eye assessment, they can be cleared using special forceps to express as much of the meibum as possible, as demonstrated in the video below. Topical anaesthesia is applied to reduce discomfort. On-going treatment can then be carried out at home with warm lid compresses and massage.
For temporary relief from transient dry eye conditions, or as an inexpensive way to find out if punctal plugs are the best solution to your dry eye problem, we suggest the Comfortear Lacrisolve 180 Absorbable Punctum Plug. This tiny plug is quickly and easily fitted, generally without the need for any anaesthetic and dissolves after around six months, at which point a new set can be fitted, or they can be replaced by the permanent Form Fit plugs instead.
For a permanent solution to dry eye problems, at Harvey Rose & Sons we fit the innovative Form Fit soft punctal plug which is manufactured by Oasis Medical in the USA. These plugs are made of a hydrogel material that expands into a soft, pliable, gelatinous material when it contacts the tears. The Form Fit plug becomes completely hydrated about ten minutes after being inserted and does not protrude from the punctum, thereby eliminating the irritation that can often accompany the older, rigid types of plugs. In the event that the Form Fit plugs need to be removed, for example if they result in excessive tear retention, then this is done by simply irrigating the tear duct. For more details, please see the video below.