Are your eyes dry, red, irritated or watering?
You may be one of the many New Zealanders who suffer from dry eye syndrome. Dry eye is a debilitating, common condition, particularly in older adults. The two most common causes of dry eye are oil glands getting clogged and inflamed or glands not producing enough lubricating tears.
Tear production tends to diminish with age or as a side effect of certain medications. Environmental conditions, such as wind, air-conditioning, smoke, dust, dry heat and low humidity, can also affect tear volume. Intense concentration associated with close or computer work, which affects blink rate, can also lead to dry eyes.
Dry eye symptoms
If you don’t have sufficient tears, or your tears evaporate too quickly, it can lead to blurred vision, contact lens intolerance, increased risk of infection and, in severe cases, progressive eye disease. Dry eye symptoms may include itchiness, dryness, grittiness, stinging, watering and blurry vision. The symptoms can worsen as the day progresses.
Don’t let dry eyes go untreated
Taking care and treating dry eye not only relieves discomfort, it can help avoid infection or even scarred corneas.
It is very important to clean your eyes and eyelids every day. People with dry eyes tend to rub their eyes, a lot, which is not good. Eye rubbing can cause inflammation while letting dust and microbes enter the eyes. Good eyelid hygiene not only relieves the symptoms, it is the most important part of treating dry eye. The aim is to soothe the eyelids, unplug any blocked meibomian glands and clear out any stagnant oily secretions. This daily routine consists of three parts: warmth, massage and cleansing.
More effective than damp cloths, heated wheatie bags provide a steady, continuous heat to unblock oil glands by melting the oil so it can flow freely. Heat up the bag in the microwave, then apply the bag to the eyelid area for about five minutes. Next, massage your eyelids from the inside of your eye to the outside. We sell wheat bags custom made for this job.
One of our optician team can show you how to do eye massages comfortably and safely. Massaging helps to push out the oily fluid from the tiny, clogged glands. Make sure you look up when massaging the lower lids and down when massaging the upper lids so that you are not pressing on the cornea at the front of the eye.
To massage the eyelids, gently rub along the length of the upper and lower eyelids towards the lashes, sweeping downwards along the upper eyelid, and upwards when moving along the lower eyelid. Then press on four points from the inside of your eye to the outside, extremely gently. Press and hold for four seconds at each point and repeat five to ten times. Do this twice a day for best results.
The next very important step is cleaning the eyelids. Debris built up on the lashes can cause inflammation and infection. Cleansing the eyelids will remove any buildup along the eyelid or on the eyelashes. The delicate skin of the eyelid requires a gentle, pH-balanced cleansing solution which is why we recommend an eyelid cleanser such as Sterilid.
Lubricating eyedrops can refresh the eye, relieving the symptoms of dryness. Talk to our optometrists about Optimel Manuka Honey Eyedrops. We also recommend preservative free eyedrops such as the Lumecare Singles Eye Drops range. They provide dry eye relief by replacing tears, while providing your eye surface with the electrolytes it needs.
Optimel Antibacterial Manuka Eye Gel
Some sufferers of dry eye have an overabundance of ocular flora. Topical antibiotics can significantly help reduce bacteria in cases of chronic lid disease. If appropriate, we may recommend the application of Optimel Antibacterial Manuka+ Eye Gel three times daily to lower lid margins.
Taking Omega 3 orally can also reduce irritation and inflammation. Fish and flaxseed oil both contain omega 3 fatty acids, essential to good eye health. Omega 3 oils are used by the oil glands to help produce lubrication. Other research shows that ingesting Omega 3 fatty acids may also reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. We sell Thera Tears Nutrition Omega-3 Supplement Easy Swallow Capsules. Speak to one of our opticians about how they could help your eyesight and well-being.
Blephasteam Dry Eye Treatment
For patients at our Auckland city optometrists, we have Blephasteam Goggles. By warming the eyelid, unblocking the meibomian glands and improving tear quality, these electric goggles are great for treating dry eye. Blephasteam Goggles look a bit like swimming goggles. Disposable paper rings soaked in water are placed inside the electric goggles and heat makes the paper rings produce steam, melting the waxy oils in the eyes. Our optometrists can let you know if using Blephasteam treatment would be beneficial for you.
Change Your Outlook On Dry Eyes
Our Auckland optometrists specialise in treating dry eye. Between our Henderson Optometry practice and our optometrists in Newmarket our staff has dedicated over 35 years’ helping dry eye patients enjoy more comfortable lives. Treating dry eye requires a multi-pronged approach. We offer an in-house treatment which is very effective at clearing the glands and returning your eyelids to normal function and we can show you how you can maintain a treatment plan at home for good eye health. Call 09 522 1283 or 09 836 1731 to schedule a comprehensive eye check and treatment plan.