Dry Eye

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Many people experience dry eyes at some point in their lives and it's not usually serious, but there are things you can do to help treat the condition...

What is dry eye?

Dry eye, which is typically described as a gritty, scratchy, irritating and uncomfortable sensation, is one of the commonest ocular ailments.

You may have dry eye if your eyes feel:

  • itchy
  • sore
  • gritty
  • red
  • blurry
  • sensitive to light
  • more watery than normal

Who is affected by dry eye?

You may be more likely to get dry eyes if:

  • you’re over the age of 50
  • you wear contact lenses
  • you look at computer screens for a long time without a break
  • you spend time in air conditioned or heated environments
  • it’s windy, cold, dry or dusty
  • you smoke or drink alcohol
  • you take certain medicines (for example, some antidepressants or blood pressure drugs)
  • you have a condition, such as blepharitis, Sjögren’s syndrome or lupus

Should I seek medical advice?

Before visiting your GP or optician, try to adhere to the following self-care guidance. Make sure to keep your eyes clean and get plenty of sleep to rest your eyes. When using a computer, take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Adjust your computer screen is at eye level so you do not strain your eyes. If possible, use a humidifier to stop the air getting dry.

If you wear contact lenses, take them out and wear glasses instead to give your eyes a chance to rest and breathe.

Smoking and alcohol consumption can worsen the condition, as can spending prolonged periods of time in smoky, dry or dusty places. Do not spend too long in air conditioned or heated rooms.

Do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first – even if you think it’s causing your symptoms.

If your dry eyes persist, one of our pharmacists may be able to tell you through a telephone consultation. During the consultation, you will be advised on what you can do to treat it yourself – such as cleaning and protecting your eyes. Additionally, if your condition is causing you discomfort, you may be recommended products to help treat your eyes – such as eye drops, gels, ointments or allergy medicines.

You should see an optician or GP if:

  • you still have dry eyes after trying home treatments for a few weeks
  • there’s any change in the shape of your eyelids
  • you have any changes to your vision, such as loss of vision

They can check what the cause might be and recommend treatment for it. If an optician or GP cannot find a cause, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.

Next steps…

If you are suffering from dry eye, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by booking a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced pharmacists for advice and support.

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