Commonly reported symptoms of dry eye include dryness, excessive tearing, reduced and/or variable vision, lid and conjunctival redness, discomfort on opening and closing of eyelids and irritation. One may also encounter patients complaining of pain, stinging and burning, tired eyes or foreign body sensations.
Symptoms are generally exacerbated by warm, dry atmospheres, particularly when doing attentive tasks like using a computer or digital screen, when driving (especially with the heater on) and even reading. These symptoms are not just minor irritations, they have been reported to significantly impact upon patients’ daily activities, workplace productivity and quality of life. Indeed, a quality of life measure reported that 25 per cent of patients with dry eye disease (DED) felt unhappy or depressed; 34 per cent felt frustrated with daily activities and 11 per cent needed to decrease their work time. (1,2)
These are the physical symptoms, however, dry eye manifests itself in other ways too. Normally, after blinking, a smooth and stable tear film is formed, this then gradually thins until it breaks up. It will tend to do this more centrally, closer to the visual axis, than at the cornea’s periphery – so just where critical vision is required, it is compromised. (3) Typically, dry spots begin to form in a normal tear film at 10 to 12 seconds post-blink, creating optical aberrations on the surface epithelium. (4)