Dry Eyes, Tired and Gritty Eyes
Dry Eyes - The Problem
Dry Eyes occur when the quality or quantity of your tears are insufficient to keep the surface of your eyes moist. The tear ducts, glands and cornea all work together to supply a constant flow of tears to the eye, which is spread across the eye through blinking. The tear itself is made up of water (giving moisture), oils (giving lubrication), mucous (for even spreading) as well as antibodies and special proteins (for protection from infection). Without a good flow of good quality tears and regular blinking, dry eyes can occur.
Between 17-30% of people experience dry eyes at some point during their life according to some studies.
The common symptom of dry eyes is dryness associated with a gritty feeling. But some people may feel like something is in their eye, have redness, itching or blurring of vision. It normally affects both eyes.
Dry Eyes - Common Causes of Dry and Tired Eyes
It is a common problem for eyes to feel dry, tired and gritty. Our hectic and demanding lifestyles can really take their toll on our eyes, as can our environment, age and health.
- Lifestyle - whether it is an early start to the day, a late night out, another long day in front of a computer or a long journey, the effect is the same. Dry & tired eyes. Did you know when you work at your computer screen your blink rate drops on average from 10 blinks per minute to 3-4 times per minute2. Blinking is essential to keep your eyes moisturized and to clear them of any irritants. So, whether you are reading, driving, or using the computer – keep blinking!
- Environment - we all know that dry eyes can result from windy, dry , air conditioned, and heated climates. Did you know that high altitudes can also dry our eyes?
- Travel – most wearers of contact lenses find air travel the worst for drying out eyes and lenses. But it isn’t just lens wearers that struggle. Did you know the air quality in a plane has a very low relative humidity – effectively drying our eyes out whilst we fly.
- Activities - Whether it is close work such as computer use or reading or even watching TV, if we don’t blink enough our eyes will feel tired. Did you know having your eyes glued to the screen for 90 minutes also slows down the rate at which you blink to as little as 3 per times per minute.3
- Age and health – eyes tend to become drier as we get older (especially over 60) as we produce fewer tears. Hormone levels can also affect the dryness of eyes, with the menopause having a great impact. The side effects of certain medicines such as antihistamines, antidepressants, beta-blockers and diurectics can dry out eyes. Blepharitis (inflammation of the rims of the eyelids) can also cause dry eyes.
- Laser Surgery – patients often have dry eyes for the immediate weeks after surgery
Dry Eyes can also be the sign of more serious eye problems, so recurring dryness should not be ignored. If your eyes are very sensitive to light, become very red or painful or your vision starts to deteriorate, you should visit your GP.
Dry Eyes - Treatment and advice
- Eye drops and ointments – ensure you choose a drop that moisturises and lubricates such as Murine® dry & tired eyes. Keep them to hand at work and at home. Use regularly. If you wear contact lenses, ensure to choose a product suitable for lenses such as Murine® contacts refresh & clean eye drops.
- Think ‘blink’ – when undertaking an activity with long periods of concentration (reading, computer use, TV watching). Make a big effort to blink regularly.
- Close your eyes – periodically close them for short periods through the day to help refresh them.
- Protect your eyes – wear sunglasses when possible in environments that are likely to dry your eyes, such as sunny, windy, dusty or polluted ones.
- Remove contact lenses – especially when travelling by air or anytime you are in a very drying environment or doing an activity that can dry your eyes. Keep drops to hand for all other times.
- Drink water!
1NHS Direct Patient Information Leaflets
2M.J. Doughty, 2002, Optom Vis Science: July 2002 Volume70 Issue 7 pp 439-447
3Dr John Stern, Why do we blink?, Special to MSNBC, Feb 1999
Warnings: If eye symptoms persist, consult your doctor.
Disclaimer – Prestige Brands (UK) Limited , the owner of the Murine® brand of eye drops, is not providing any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content provided in this Guide is for informational purposes only. Certain references to third-party information have been provided in the Guide for information purposes only but have not been verified or validated by Prestige Brands (UK) Limited. Prestige Brands (UK) Limited does not recommend or endorse any third-party information and your use of any information in the Guide is solely at your own risk.