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Chronic dry eye occurs when there is insufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye (known as the cornea). A layer of tears normally covers the cornea to keep it moist – this is your body’s natural ‘eye lubricant’. Small meibomian glands in the eyelids secrete oils that reduce evaporation of the tear layer.
Chronic dry eye can be caused by inadequate tear supply or excessive evaporation of tears, resulting in a deficient tear film.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is one of the most common, if not the most common, causes of dry eye. It occurs when the meibomian glands don’t secrete enough oil into the tears, leading to rapid evaporation of the tear layer.
Symptoms of chronic dry eye occur because of corneal inflammation and irritation. Symptoms can include a gritty sensation, feeling like something is in your eye or excessive watering/tearing.
Other signs include red or itchy eyes, a burning sensation, pain, light sensitivity or fluctuating vision. It can be a serious condition and I am often referred patients who are seeking dry eye relief.
People suffering from chronic dry eye may have reduced ability to perform everyday tasks, such as reading or looking at a computer screen for extended periods.
MGD is typically a life-long condition requiring ongoing management techniques to soothe dry eyes. Early diagnosis and dry eye treatment offer the best chance of symptom relief and prevention of disease progression.
There is no ‘best cure for dry eye’. Our aim for patients with dry eye is to restore the tear layer and ensure good eye hygiene. Dry eye treatment may involve a combination of simple home remedies (e.g. warm compresses), dry eye lubricants or dry eye ointments, prescription eye drops and sometimes even natural remedies such as flaxseed oil.
Another natural remedy for dry eyes is Optimel Manuka+ Dry Eye Drop™, containing active Manuka honey developed from Leptospermum sp. I have found these drops provide significant relief for many of my patients.
Evidence suggests that MGD and tear deficiency may be associated with an overgrowth of bacteria on the surface of the eye. This overgrowth of bacteria is thought to lead to tear film instability and eye surface damage.
Active Manuka honey is well known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.
Research studies confirm that Manuka honey is an effective treatment for a range of eye conditions, including dry eye relief. It achieves this by lowering the pH and reducing bacterial overgrowth and inflammation, thereby stabilising the surface of the eye.
No serious side effects have been observed, but active Manuka honey preparations such as Optimel can cause initial stinging and redness when applied.
In contrast, the side-effects of some conventional dry eye therapies can include increased risk of eye infection and reduced effectiveness over time – active Manuka honey-based drops are often a suitable alternative for these patients.
Dry eye can also be seen following cataract surgery, affecting both patient comfort and visual quality.
I find that Optimel drops with active Manuka honey are also beneficial in these patients, particularly those who have chosen multifocal intraocular lenses.
Chronic dry eye is a serious condition that can have implications for your vision and quality of life if left untreated.
An optometrist is the first port of call if you think you have dry eyes. They can perform a comprehensive eye examination and begin initial treatment for mild symptoms. For those with moderate-to-severe dry eye, a referral to an ophthalmologist can be organised.
IMPORTANT: If you are concerned about your eyes and require an urgent consultation, DO NOT use this form. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department.