Dry eye is a really common condition caused by a problem with your tears. It can make your eye feel dry, scratchy uncomfortable or like there is something in your eye all the time.
Although it can be irritating dry eye won’t lead to permanent sight loss and often the symptoms can be managed easily.
Our Understanding Dry Eye guide is accredited by the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, and is designed to give you a detailed understanding of your eye condition and helpful advice on next steps.
Download our full guide on dry eye as a PDF (365KB)
You can also download our full guide on dry eye as a Word document (30KB)
Understanding dry eye
Dry eye is caused by a problem with your tears. When you blink you leave a thin layer, called the tear film, over the front of your eye. This tear film keeps the front of your eye healthy and helps the eye focus properly, giving you clear vision.
The tear film is made up of three layers which includes the mucin layer, watery layer and lipid layer. If you don't produce enough tears, if your tears aren't of the right quality or your tears aren't spread across the front of your eye properly then you may develop dry eye.
Often dry eye is a natural symptom of getting older but can also be affected by other things such as medications, pre-existing health conditions, use of contact lenses and eye surgery.
In the below video, Alison talks about her diagnosis of dry eye and how she manages it.
If your eyes feel dry, uncomfortable and irritated or you feel like there’s something in your eye all the time, then you should tell your GP, optometrist (optician) or ophthalmologist (hospital eye doctor).
After taking a detailed history and examining the front of your eyes, your optometrist or ophthalmologist may want to carry out further tests to help them decide how to treat your eyes.
The types of test that an optometrist might undertake are covered in detail in our Understanding Dry Eye guide (see download links at the beginning of this page).
You can’t "cure" dry eye, but there are some treatments that can help your eyes feel more comfortable.
Once your ophthalmologist, optometrist or GP has confirmed you have dry eye, they will discuss what can be done to help you.
There are three main ways to treat dry eye:
- Making the most of your natural tears
- Using eye drops
- Reducing the drawing away of tears
All three of these treatments are looked at in detail in our Understanding Dry Eye download guide.
Knowing RNIB is there is so reassuring, like a comfort blanket
Moorfields Eye Hospital has a useful information resource called Know Your Drops, with advice and tips on the best techniques to administer eye drops and information about compliance aids.
NHS Choices has advice and information on dry eye.