London Medical Ophthalmology
Dry eye treatment
If you are one of the many individuals who suffers from dry eye, you might experience highly unpleasant symptoms such as scratching, burning, gritty or even watery sensations in your eyes.
What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a common condition that is surprisingly complex. There are many underlying causes of dry eye, and environmental and lifestyle factors can contribute to symptoms. At London Medical, we’ll look at your whole health and create a personalised treatment plan to help treat your dry eye.
Understanding dry eye
When you blink, a tear film spreads over the outside surface of your eye. The tear film keeps your eyes lubricated and is critical for good vision.
The tear film is made up of three layers:
- An oil layer forms the outside. The meibomian glands are responsible for making this layer.
- A watery layer forms the middle. This layer makes up most of what we see as tears.
- The lacrimal glands in your eyelids produce this layer.
- A mucus layer forms the inner layer. It is created by the conjunctiva, the clear tissue covering the whites of your eyes.
Each of these layers is needed to keep our eyes well lubricated. If there is a problem with any of these layers or the parts of the eye that produce them, you might experience dry eye.
Many conditions can cause and contribute to dry eye (these are called co-morbid conditions). For example, if you suffer from blepharitis, or chronic eyelid inflammation, you will likely also experience dry eye.
Signs and symptoms
Signs and symptoms of dry eye usually affect both eyes and might include:
- stinging, burning or scratchy sensations
- a gritty feeling as if something is in your eye
- red or irritated eyes
- blurry vision or difficulty reading
- pain when wearing contact lenses
- watery eyes (a common response to dry eye irritation)
Causes and risk factors
There are many medical and environmental causes of dry eye:
- Some autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus and sarcoidosis
- Skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (a condition that affects the glands that make up the oily layer of tears)
- Hay fever
- Some medicines such as diuretics, antidepressants, allergy and cold medications, anti-anxiety medications, acne medications and antipsychotics
- Using contact lenses for a long time
- Environmental factors such as air conditioning or being in smoky, windy or dry places
- Looking at screens for too long
Anyone can get dry eye, but some individuals are more at risk than others. You are more likely to get dry eye if you:
- are over the age of 50
- are a woman
- wear contact lenses
- have had refractive surgery.
Our approach to treating dry eye
At London Medical, you’ll receive the very best care from leading ophthalmologists at the cutting-edge of their field. We bring together state-of-the-art equipment and diagnostics, a friendly and caring team and prompt treatment plans tailored to your needs — all in our comfortable and accessible ground-floor clinic.
We believe in taking a whole-person approach to your health. For dry eye, this means your consultant will accurately diagnose any co-morbid or underlying conditions causing your dry eye before coming up with a treatment plan tailored to you.
Getting an accurate diagnosis of your condition is the first step in finding effective, long-lasting relief. Your consultant will conduct a complete eye exam, including administering dilating drops to properly examine the back of your eyes and check for other eye problems.
Additional investigations might include:
- An examination of your eyelids and the surface of your eyes
- Measuring the quality and quantity of your tears
- A test to measure how quickly your tears evaporate
- Blood tests to screen for underlying conditions.
These investigations aim to accurately identify the cause or causes of your dry eye and diagnose any co-morbid conditions. Your consultant will then suggest a complete treatment plan to treat your whole health.
What is the treatment for dry eye?
Your treatment will vary depending on the severity and cause of your dry eye.
Using eye drops
For many people with mild cases of dry eye, artificial tear eye drops can be enough lubrication to help. If your case is more severe, your consultant might prescribe drops to help your eyes produce more tears.
For individuals with blepharitis or rosacea, topical antibiotic ointments can help with inflammation.
If your dry eye results from an underlying inflammatory disease, autoimmune disorder or infection, your treatment plan could include anti-inflammatory medications, antibiotics, steroids or immunosuppressants. If your dry eye is a symptom of an existing medication, your consultant will suggest an alternative.
For those patients whose dry eye is caused by a problem with the meibomian glands, several non-surgical procedures can help these glands function better:
Meibomian gland expression – Gentle pressure is applied to the glands to clear any blockage and promote oil secretion.
Meibomian gland probing – This non-invasive procedure clears obstructions in the meibomian glands
Intense pulse light therapy (IPL) – A concentrated light source is shined over the eyes to open and stimulate the meibomian glands.
If you cannot retain tears in your eyes, your consultant might suggest tear duct plugs or tear duct cauterisation. These are designed to keep the moisture in your eyes from draining away. Whilst plugs can be removed, cauterisation is a minimally invasive procedure that closes the ducts more permanently using heat.
Prevention and lifestyle changes
You can take many simple and effective measures to help promote your eye health and hygiene. Your consultant will recommend which self-care techniques would be most effective for you:
- Gently clean your eyelids
- Use warm compresses on your eyes
- Massage your eyelids
- Take frequent breaks from looking at screens
- Quit smoking
- Avoid known allergens or irritants
- Protect your eyes from the sun and wind by using wraparound sunglasses
- Increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Meet our experts in dry eye treatment
Professor of Ophthalmology & consultant ophthalmic surgeon at UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and Moorfields Eye Hospital.
Consultant ophthalmic surgeon who specialises in refractive, corneal and cataract surgery, external eye disease and glaucoma.
Consultant ophthalmic surgeon specialising in cornea, cataract and refractive surgery.
Optometrist who specialises in complex contact lens fitting, including keratoconus and myopia control, in conjunction with routine optometric practice.
International reputation for providing excellence in patient care with macular disease and is also actively involved in research for finding novel therapies for the condition.
Leading consultant ophthalmic surgeon with extensive sub-speciality expertise in all aspects of refractive lens replacement surgery, retinal disease, and vitreo-retinal surgery.
Specialist optometrist at Moorfields Eye Hospital working in contact lens, refraction and low vision clinics.
London Medical is located in the Harley Street medical area. Together with top experts across a range of multi-disciplinary fields, we offer the finest facilities for your care, all under one roof.
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