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DRY EYES: Why are so many people complaining about them?

DRY EYES like Eye Strain is an epidemic – Why? […]

By Published On: 8 December 20112.9 min read

DRY EYES like Eye Strain is an epidemic – Why?

Before we try and answer this question lets describe why the eyes need to be wet.

Eyes are made up of living cells.  Cells are made up of primarily water so being in a wet environment helps them function.  The coloured part of eye called the iris has a clear window in front of it called the cornea.  It is imperative for the corneal cells to be wet so that they remain clear and transparent.  If this window (cornea) loses its transparency good quality vision is also lost.

The eye is also wet so that if debris or germs enter the eye, they are able to be washed out.  The eye is able to defend itself against irritation and infection by increasing its water supply via extra tears.  It is not surprising then that the smallest bit of dust in your eye will set off the water works!  It is also normal if the eye is infected that it appears “glassy” due to the extra tears that have been produced in the eye to try and ward off the infection.

For many reasons the eyes need to have enough moisture to function at their best.  Dry Eyes though seem to be an increasing problem that at least half the people seeking an eye examination complain about to our optometrists at The Eye Practice.

The most severe form of dry eye is called Xerophthalmia.  This is caused from vitamin A deficiency in under developed countries and in particular affects children.

Luckily for us in Australia it is not an issue.  What is an issue though is that many people complain of the following symptoms:

  • Gritty eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Stinging eyes
  • Itchy eyes – although this is often allergy
  • Sensitive to glare

There are basically two forms of dry eye:

  1. Evaporative dry eye.
  2. Aqueous deficiency dry eye.

The first is caused to to lack of oil in the tear film and the second is caused due to lack of water in the tear film.  These types and their respective treatments will be discussed in future posts.

At The Eye Practice we believe there seems to be a significant increase in the number of people complaining of dry eye because many more people are working in front of computer screens and in air-conditioned environments.

Studies have shown that when the average person is doing computer work, their concentration increases and with this a reduction of blinking occurs.  Blinking is required to create tears to lubricate the eye.  In fact it has been estimated that when someone is working on a computer screen their blinking rate reduces down to 30% of what is normal.

To make matters worse most people that are working in front of computer screens are doing so in dehumidified air-conditioning.  This also dehydrates the surface of the eyes, which in turn creates irritation.

Dietary factors could also play a role and once again smoking rears its ugly head.  Smokers seem to suffer more from dry eye.  Another huge group of dry eye sufferers are contact lens wearers.

Treating dry eye at The Eye Practice is one of our specialities.  We can treat it from many perspectives.  If you think you have a problem with dry eyes call us and make an appointment as soon as practical.  Dry Eyes causes significant discomfort and reduces productivity.  Call us on 9290 1899 or BOOK AN ONLINE APPOINTMENT.


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