Dry eye is very common and is more prevalent in women than in men. Although not serious, it can be quite uncomfortable and in extreme cases, it can cause vision to intermittently blur.

Dry eyes can occur if there are not enough tears produced or if the tears evaporate too quickly as a result of a poor quality tear film. The tear film basically consists of three layers:

  • The inner mucin layer. This mucous layer is produced by the conjunctiva and essentially adheres the tears to the surface of the eye. It also helps to spread the watery layer across the surface of the eye.
  • The middle watery. This layer makes up most of what we see as the tear film and is produced by the lacrimal gland. It helps to wash away particles and debris and contains nutrients to nourish the eye.
  • The outer oily layer. This layer is produced by the meibomian glands which are located along the lid margins of both top and bottom eyelids, just behind the lashes. We have 25-30 of these tiny glands on each eyelid. This oily layer stops the watery layer from evaporating.

As you blink, the tear film is renewed and spread smoothly across the surface of the eye. If the meibomian glands are blocked, a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction, this can result in evaporative dry eye.

Factors which contribute to a dry eye:

  • Air conditioning
  • Prolonged VDU work. Statistically we blink less whilst using computer screens leading to dry eye problems whilst working. Remember to blink regularly whilst using screens
  • Certain medications e.g some blood pressure medications, certain anti- depressants among others can cause dry eye as a side effect
  • Systemic illnesses. Conditions such as lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disorders can cause dry eye for some patients
  • Ageing


Symptoms generally affect both eyes, although not always. They include:

  • itchy eyes
  • a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
  • a gritty sensation
  • red eyes
  • an increased sensitivity to light
  • excessive watering of the eyes

A range of drops and gels can help to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye. We recommend preservative free formulations.
In addition, hot compresses are also recommended for use to help with meibomian gland dysfunction. At Unia Opticians, we have a range of products suitable for use and will be happy to advise patients on the best course of treatment.

For further advice call us on 0207 222 0066 or email us at info@uniaopticians.co.uk

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