Dry eye disease is very common and affects around 1 in 4 people.It is a reduction in the ability of the eye to produce or maintain adequate tears, which are needed to lubricate and protect the eye as well as maintain good vision.
It can cause a range of symptoms from red eye, eye pain, and foreign body sensation to blurred vision. Dry eyes can in some cases cause a significant deterioration in quality of life. In most cases, the assessment and management of dry eye disease is easily managed by an Ophthalmologist and can result in substantial symptomatic improvement.
The most common cause of dry eye disease is blepharitis (a chronic inflammatory condition of the eyelids). It can also be associated with underlying medical conditions and some systemic medications or allergy. Lifestyle factors such as smoking and increased screen-time may also contribute. Furthermore,after a simple eye infection such as conjunctivitis, the symptoms of dry eye disease can persist up to one year. The first step in establishing the cause of dry eye disease is to take a thorough history and perform a slit-lamp eye examination.
The initial treatment is artifical tear drops which increase lubrication of the surface of the eye, and in most cases can control symptoms well. There are many types of lubricating drops, many with different properties and constituents. Different causes of dry eye respond better to different drops, and this is covered during a consultation with an ophthalmologist. In addition, adiet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and lifestyle changes such as regular screen breaks can improve symptoms. In some cases, further treatment which may include antibiotic and steroid is required.
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