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DRY EYES | Mortimer Hirst

Have you ever felt like your eyes are burning, stinging or feel gritty? Felt like your vision fluctuates throughout the day? Had difficulty with reading or working on a computer for an extended duration? Had discomfort with contact lens wear by the end of the day?


If so, you are likely to be experiencing symptoms of dry eye, a condition that affects around one-third of the population. Factors such as age, female gender, medical conditions and medications, the environment you work in and diet are but a few known associations. Most of the time it is not one but a combination of these factors at play, that causes dry eye. Severity can vary from mildly irritating to disabling and can adversely affect ones quality of life.


The tears provide lubrication, protect and deliver nutrients to the eye surface. Dry eye can compromise these functions and can have long term affects to overall eye health; therefore ongoing tailored management strategies are often required.


The clinical team at Mortimer Hirst can help diagnose and formulate a treatment plan so that this frustrating condition will not compromise your lifestyle.   


Treatment options in mild or intermittent cases involve the appropriate selection of artificial tears. Advice can be given on at home therapies that you can perform yourself to encourage the healthy components of the tear film to occur naturally, in addition to the right food types and or dietary supplements.


More moderate to severe cases may require additional therapies delivered by the clinical team to help repair the eye surface. Therapies such as Blephasteam and E-Eye Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) are now available and your optometrist will be able to advise if you would benefit from these. Additional therapeutic agents can be prescribed to stop the ongoing cycle of dryness and restore the eyes natural balance.   


If you have any concerns with dry eye or are not sure if what you are experiencing is dry eye, please consult our team of optometrists who aim to provide practical advice and who will work with you to optimise your eye health.


Artificial Tears:

Artificial tears are eye surface lubricants, which aim to stabilise and supplement the tear film. There is often an abundance of products available at the pharmacy causing confusion as to which one to use. After your eye examination, your optometrist will be able to recommend the most suitable eye drop, or combination of lubricants specific to your eye condition.


Dietary Supplements:

Essential fatty acids are found naturally in certain food types, and these are crucial for our tears. One of the most important components of healthy tears is a layer of natural oil known as meibum. This is released by the meibomian glands, which line the eyelids. Often, dry eyes are caused by a lack of, or poor consistency of meibum. Your optometrist will be able to see if this is the root cause of your dry eyes and advise on the types of foods to eat more of and/or introduce the most appropriate supplement to help you obtain the right oils into your diet.     



This is a new treatment that can be performed by your optometrist. It involves wearing a pair of humidified and heated eye goggles for a period of 10-15 minutes, which works to improve meibomian gland function. Once the period of heating is complete your optometrist will perform a manual expression of the glands to dislodge any blockages and increase the outflow of the meibum into the tears.


E-Eye Intense Pulsed Light (IPL):

This is new long-term treatment strategy for ongoing dry eye disease. It involves applying intense pulsed light to the area beneath your lower eyelid to help stimulate the meibomian glands to improve their oil producing function. It is recommended that three sessions be performed to obtain the best results from this treatment. Top up treatments can be applied if required.   


Inflammatory eye drops:

The optometrists at Mortimer Hirst are all therapeutically qualified. This gives them the ability to prescribe medications to help treat and manage the ocular surface inflammation that presents with dry eye. This can often kick start the resolution of the sore, gritty or tired feeling eyes. More recently the optometrists scope of practice has been expanded to allow the prescription of certain oral medications that can help treat eye disease. Speak to your optometrist about whether these adjunct therapies may be appropriate for you.


Words: Mortimer Hirst