Developed by

Dry Eyes

By Bjarne Lühr Hansen PhD, MD and Philipp Skafte-Holm MD, Mentor Institute

Dry eyes is a condition where the amount of tear fluid is reduced and/or the composition of the tear fluid is wrong. It may occur as a passing or chronic condition.

Every time we blink, the tear fluid is spread over the cornea and the mucous membrane of the eye. The formation of the different elements in the tear fluid is dependent on many things, among others the hormone production. When we become older the hormone production alters and this is the explanation for why especially older people are frequently bothered by dry eyes.

Furthermore, dry eyes can be triggered or worsened by a number of things:

  • Poor indoor climate with dry air, air conditioning, dust, static electricity, chemical fumes or smoky rooms, which makes the tear fluid evaporate quickly.
  • Working in front of a computer and other work that demands high concentration can lead to you blinking less and less with your eyes so that less tear fluid is spread on the eye.
  • Use of contact lenses
  • Age, since the quality of the tears alters with age.
  • Influence by sun, wind and water.
  • Side-effects from medication (e.g. medication for urinary problems and medication for depression).

With intervals, almost everyone experience dry eyes as a passing phenomenon. Between 10 - 15 % are much bothered by it.

The most common nuisances with dry eyes are smarting, burning, itching, the feeling of having something in the eye, sensitivity to light and blurry vision. The nuisances can also appear as tiredness of the eyes in the case of much reading together with driving a car or travelling by plane. Paradoxically, you can also experience the eye watering when you have dry eyes and this is caused by the mucous membranes in the eyes are irritated. Dry eyes are frequently seen, although passing, following laser surgery.

Further reading on Frequent signs.

What can you do?

You can make sure to take good care of your eyes with moisturising and lubricating eye drops, so-called artificial tears. Artificial tears do not cure the condition but soothe the symptoms. Avoid the things that worsen the nuisances (see the above section). Also, avoid washing your eye with ordinary water which irritates the eyes and worsen the condition because the normal fat and slime in your own tear fluid is washed away.

What can your optician do?
The optician can refer you to an ophthalmologist. The optician can evaluate whether your contact lenses function optimally.

Contact the doctor tomorrow

The doctor can refer you to an eye doctor, if the nuisances are not soothed by artificial tears.

Contact the doctor immediately

The ophthalmologist can examine whether the tear fluid has the right composition and whether there is any damage to the mucous membrane and cornea of the eye.