Does the winter wind leave your eyes streaming? Does your vision blur when you read? Does staring at a computer make your eyes feel full of grit? Do you wake up with sore eyes? If the answer to any of these is yes, you may be suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome (commonly referred to as dry eye) and new simple treatments can significantly help alleviate your symptoms.
Here's the experience of one of our dry eye patients, Lesley Clarke.
"I was having severe problems with my eyes, being sore, red and puffy. Having been to my doctor and prescribed antibiotics and still no real improvement I was beginning to despair. Then I read an advertisement about Buchanan's and how they can treat this type of condition. I made an appointment with Kathryn, and she examined my eyes and prescribed cream and drops and told me it would improve my eyes. I was doubtful as I had been suffering for many months and nothing I tried worked but after a few weeks my eyes improved and are now almost back to normal. I am so grateful to Kathryn as it feels like I have my life back again. I was becoming so despondent, so this treatment has been a life saver for me! My sincere thanks to Kathryn."
Dry eye is a very common condition, affecting up to 40% of the population at some time in their lives. It is particularly common in those over 40 and is more common in women than men. The condition causes symptoms such as gritty feeling eyes, irritation, burning, itching, blurred vision, eyes sticking together at night and, surprisingly, watery eyes. The excessive watering is caused by the dryness. The eye naturally produces more water to try and combat the dryness; however this often leads to over tearing. This can be a problem for most people on very cold windy days, but those suffering from dry eye, experience it more often.
Dry eye is caused by a problem with your tears. When you blink you leave a thin layer, called the tear film, over the front of your eye. The tear film keeps the front of your eye healthy, and it also helps the eye focus properly, giving you clear vision. Tears are made up of three parts- lipid, water, and mucus. If the tear film balance is incorrect the tears do not stick to the eye, they evaporate and dry out more quickly. If you don't produce enough tears, if your tears aren't of the right quality or your tears aren't spread across the front of your eye properly then you may develop dry eye. Conditions such as blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelids) and meibomian gland dysfunction (blockage of the oil secreting ducts in the eyelid) can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
Dry eyes can be affected by many factors including environment, occupation, age, laser surgery, hormones and the weather.
Certain conditions such as arthritis, thyroid problems, Lupus, Sjogren’s and certain medications can cause dryness.
You may also be more prone to dry eye if you wear contact lenses, read a lot or work on a computer. But the good news is that you do not have to live with the symptoms.
Dry eye is worth treating, even if you feel you can live with the symptoms. A dry surface to your eye, a little like dry skin, makes you more prone to infections such as cysts, styes, and conjunctivitis. If you receive treatment early, it can stop further damage to your eyes. Long term dryness can cause ulceration of the cornea and scarring, so it is best treated long before it gets to this stage.
The tear film is a complex structure and needs to be properly assessed before treatment can be targeted to stop dryness at the cause, rather than just trying a range of drops to treat the symptoms, which may never work. Therefore, we recommend a dry eye consultation. At your dry eye consultation, your specialist Optometrist will carefully assess your symptoms and use various specialists tests to establish if you have dry eyes and what may be causing it and then recommend the best treatment. This tailored approach helps even for those who may have tried GP prescribed drops or over the counter remedies before with little success. Due to cost limitations and lack of specialist diagnostic equipment, GP prescribed dry eye treatments tend to focus on an approach where the same range of drops are recommended to each patient without carrying out the specialist tests necessary to establish which part of the tear film is effected and therefore which specific treatments are required.We receive referrals from GPs and other opticians whose patients have tried some treatments to no avail. Individualised treatment plans from ourselves can dramatically reduce the symptoms of dry eyes.
So even if you have tried GP prescribed or over the counter drops before, with not much success, Buchanan Optometrists can prescribe far more efficient treatments which can alleviate your symptoms. Book into the dry eye clinic and your dry eye specialist Optometrist will thoroughly examine your eyes and develop a tailored treatment plan for you.
Your treatment plan will be carefully monitored and regularly followed up to ensure you remain on the best treatment.
Here's what one of our patients, Mrs. Dodgson said about her dry eye treatment from Buchanan Optometrists "Thank you very much for what you have done for me, I cannot put a price on it. Before the treatment, I could hardly open my eyes because of the dryness. I couldn't drive the car or watch the television, and I was at my wits end because the doctors, opticians and hospital consultants offered no help and left me thinking that there was nowhere else to turn. You have given me back my life and for this, I am incredibly thankful."
Dry Eyes are often linked to other eyelid conditions such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Blepharitis.
Meibomian gland dysfunction is caused when the small glands on the top and bottom eyelids which secrete the oily part of the tears become blocked. This condition is often related to blepharitis, a condition which can cause scaly skin cells and even mites to gather around the root of the eyelashes, leading to inflammation, irritation, and infection.
There are many treatment options to help manage dry eye, meibomian gland dysfunction, and blepharitis and prevent future flare-ups. Treatment often involves cleaning the eyelids with unique products to clear away any lipids and debris which can block the meibomian glands and irritate the lids. Using a particular application of heat and massage helps the glands secrete more lipid. Regular treatment can contribute to reducing the need for ocular lubricant drops. Artificial lubricants may be suggested to be used throughout the day. Many lubricants are available, and the right one needs to be recommended for your specific problem. We usually recommend a preservative free lubricant to reduce irritation to the eyes over long term use.
For more severe dry eye cases, Buchanan Optometrists are one of only a few optometrists in the UK to be trained to fit punctual plugs which offer a more permanent solution to dry eyes, considerably reducing or eliminating the need for lubricating drops. Your optometrist will examine you to see if you are suitable to try punctual plugs.
Remember, you do not have to live with dry eyes. If you have any of the following symptoms- dry, gritty, watery, itchy, burning, mucous discharge, photophobia (sensitivity to light), crusty lids or blurred or smeary vision especially early and late in the day, you may have dry eye syndrome, blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and require a specialist examination.
Book into our Dry Eye Clinic so we can diagnose your problem and discuss the best treatments for you. Book your appointment today on 01634 757227.
Latest new dry eye treatments
Punctal Plugs. For more severe dry eye cases, Buchanan Optometrists are one of only a few optometrists in the UK to be trained to fit punctual plugs which offer a more permanent solution to dry eyes, considerably reducing or eliminating the need for lubricating drops. Your optometrist will examine you to see if you are suitable to try punctual plugs.
E-Eye. For persistent meibomian gland dysfunction, new E-Eye laser treatment can offer instant relief. You can read more about how it works and if you are suitable here.
Blephex. Stubborn cases of Blepharitis can be helped by new Blephex treatment which deep cleans the lids for instant results.
Blephasteam. Blephasteam is a unique eyelid-warming device that provides moist and heat therapy to help relieve symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and associated eye diseases such as blepharitis, meibomitis, ocular rosacea, chalazion, contact lens intolerance and Dry Eye.
EyeCare Makeup. Designed for people with dry, sensitive eyes, contact lens wearers and those suffering from Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Blepharitis. All products are formulated to be free from animal ingredients and chemical additives known to cause allergies or intolerance. Recommended by allergy specialists, dermatologists and ophthalmologists, the products are free from parabens, lanolin, nickel, SLS, cobalt, essential oils and colophane. There really is no kinder way to look good and look after your dry eyes at the same time. Starts at just £6. Pop into the practice to try it out.
You can now also reorder your dry eye products online at www.eyestuff.co.uk
"Two years ago I was diagnosed with blepharitis and dry eyes. I was doing everything that I was told to do and throwing all sorts of medication into my eyes, but things were gradually and most definitely getting worse. My left eye had mucous across the surface of the eye, and my right eye was red and running like a tap. I had severe discomfort and pain in my Left eye that I can only describe was like having a red hot brick in my eye.
Coping with this on a daily basis was most definitely dragging me down physically and mentally. I didn’t feel that I wanted to go out and on occasions didn’t feel safe to drive.
I made the phone call, and due to my symptoms was offered an appointment the same day. I had a consultation with Alisdair who said ‘ we can sort this out for you’. Within a few days of me seeing him, the discomfort and pain had gone. It’s now two months since my first visit and my eyes look and feel so much better. In fact, several people have commented on how good they look." Christine Osbourne, dry eye patient at Buchanan Optometrists.