Dry eye syndrome: Five ways to prevent it and how to treat it

Tired of having dry, stinging, watery or red eyes?

Tired of having dry, stinging, watery or red eyes? - Credit: Engine Images - Fotolia

Dry eyes can feel gritty, sore, uncomfortable and even watery, but optometrist and national dry eye expert, Sarah Farrant, of Taunton based Earlam and Christopher Optometrists shows how with regular treatment and a few simple tips it can be a thing of the past.


BlephEx - Credit: Archant

Tired of having dry, stinging, watery or red eyes? Dry eye is a common condition that is poorly managed and frequently undiagnosed, yet with effective treatment, can be easily managed to help get your eye health back to normal.

Sarah Farrant, optometrist, lecturer in dry eye treatment and director alongside her husband Edward at Earlam and Christopher opticians, recommend visiting their specialist eye clinic for a full assessment to get to the root cause of the problem.

“Sometimes people visit us for a normal eye exam and we spot dry eye, or they can visit our dry eye clinic, for a full assessment to uncover the cause,” says Sarah. “Many people are told that nothing can be done apart from using dry eye lubricants, but we can tailor make a plan to treat and control it.”


What causes dry eye?

“There can be a few causes of dry eye, from Blepharitis, which is when your eyelid edges get crusty and red through to problems with your meibomian glands that produce oil for your tears in the eyelid getting blocked,” says Sarah.

How can it be treated?

“Lots of people find deep cleaning of the eyelids beneficial and we liken this process to treatment at a dentist. We recommend visiting on a six monthly basis for a deep eyelid clean with our Ble-phex machine, then ask you to maintain a simple regime at home before visiting again six months later,” Sarah says.

Earlam and Christopher Optometrists and Contact Lens Specialists

Earlam and Christopher Optometrists and Contact Lens Specialists - Credit: Archant

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“The treatment breaks the dry eye cycle, with the ultimate aim being to make patients more com-fortable, stop the condition from getting worse and improve long term eye health,” she adds.

Watch the video

See Sarah demonstrating how dry eyes are treated by watching the short video below:

Five tips to help with dry eyes

1. Use the 20/20 rule

“Those with dry eyes suffer more when using a computer, as your blink rate is decreased,” says Sarah. “We blink about a third as much as we normally would while on a computer, tablet or phone. Every 20 minutes have a break for 20 seconds to blink and look at least 20 feet away.”

2. Get dry eyes checked out

“If you have any dry eye symptoms, get them investigated,” advises Sarah. “Don’t ignore the symptoms of gritty, sore, stinging, red or watery eyes. Once you have it, it tends to get worse with time, unless you take steps to treat it, as the vicious cycle will carry on. It can be irreversible if it is not treated, so we always advise to try and get on top of it at the earliest stage possible.”

3. Choose preservative free drops

“If you want to lubricate eyes, try to go for preservative free lubricant drops as preservatives can make dry eyes worse,” Sarah adds.

4. Introduce oily fish into your diet

“Rich, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and kippers are good for dry eyes as the Omega-3 can help to improve the oil quality in your eyes,” says Sarah.

5. Soothe eyes to remove blocked oil

“A warm compress can give some relief. Try either a warm, damp flannel or buy a special warming eye mask and apply to closed eyes for 10 minutes a day,” explains Sarah. “The heat melts the blocked oil, so that it can flow out into the eyes again.”

Earlam and Christopher Optometrists and Contact Lens Specialists, 51 Bridge Street, Taunton, TA1 1TW. Telephone: 01823 272061.

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