Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition that occurs when the quality or the quantity of tears produced is inadequate to keep the eye well hydrated and comfortable.

When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye making the surface of the eye smooth and clear. Without this tear film, good vision would not be possible. Dry eye syndrome develops when the tear film is inadequate or defective, leaving the tears saltier and the surface of the eye dry causing a stinging or burning sensation.

The tear film consists of three layers. An outer oily layer, a middle aqueous (watery) layer which makes up the bulk of the tear film and a mucous basement layer. Each layer has its own purpose. The oily layer forms the outer most surface of the tear film. Its main purpose is to keep the tear surface smooth and reduce the evaporation of tears. The middle aqueous or watery layer makes up most of what we ordinarily think of as tears. Dry eye syndrome is predominantly caused by the loss of water in the aqueous or watery layer of the tear film, either by decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation.

Dry eye may be associated with long term contact lens wear, corneal surgery, laser refractive surgery or inflammation of the eyelids which is often referred to as meibomian gland dysfunction. It may also be associated with ageing, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Hepatitis C and HIV. It is also associated with a deficiency of omega-3 in the diet.

If left untreated, dry eye can worsen to an excruciating condition that affects your quality of life. Dry eye is most commonly treated with a combination of lubricating drops and gel, but in its more severe form prescription medications may be necessary. The optometrists at Max Astri Optometrists are qualified to prescribe these medications if necessary.