Dry eye is a very common condition, affecting up to 40% of the population at some time in their lives. It is particularly common in those over 40 and is more common in women than men. Dry eye is caused by a problem with your tears.
When you blink you leave a thin layer, called the tear film, over the front of your eye. The tear film keeps the front of your eye healthy, and it also helps the eye focus properly, giving you clear vision. Tears are made up of three parts- lipid, water and mucus. If the tear film balance is incorrect the tears do not stick to the eye, they evaporate and dry out more quickly. If you don’t produce enough tears, if your tears aren’t of the right quality or your tears aren’t spread across the front of your eye properly then you may develop dry eye.
Conditions such as blepharitis (an inflammation of the eyelids) and meibomian gland dysfunction (blockage of the oil secreting ducts in the eyelid) can exacerbate dry eye symptoms.
Dry eyes can be affected by many factors including environment, occupation, age, laser surgery, hormones and the weather. Certain conditions such as arthritis, thyroid problems, Lupus, Sjogren’s and certain medications can cause painful dry eyes.
You may also be more prone to sore dry eye if you wear contact lenses, read a lot or work on a computer. But the good news is that you do not have to live with the symptoms.