Initially told that her symptoms were hay fever Margaret was desperately trying various different eye drops in order to curb her symptoms. However, with no success she was left with sore, cracked eyes for a whopping 12 years. After years of not knowing why her symptoms occurred, she went to see an optometrist who diagnosed her with dry eye disease. Despite having been given a proper diagnosis, Margaret still suffers from dry eye flare-ups, even now, so has shared her story exclusively with Express.co.uk in order to encourage others not to ignore symptoms, and tp discuss options with their optometrist as soon as possible.
Dry eye disease is estimated to affect millions of individuals, with those who wear contact lenses, are over the age of 50, or those who look at computer screens for a long time without a break, putting themselves at a higher risk.
For Margaret, there are several different triggers, one of the main ones being stress. In fact, studies have found a correlation between psychological stress and dry eye symptoms.
One cross-sectional study included 209 students at a medical school in Korea. Researchers assessed dry eye symptoms by using a nine-point questionnaire, the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) and visual analog scale (VAS).
The subjects also participated in a survey that included demographic data, potential risk factors for dry eye, personal habits and psychological stress.
Results found that the prevalence of dry eye was 27.1 percent. Additionally, participants with dry eye had significantly higher VAS and OSDI scores compared with those without dry eye symptoms.
Other risk factors, similar to ones mentioned earlier, such as subjects who were female, wore contact lenses, were on the computer for long periods of time or had higher psychological stress scores also had a significant association with dry eye symptoms.
The connection between stress and dry eyes is said to be down to the development of tear secretion and tear film stability, which decreases under certain conditions. Most individuals report more stress, depression and anxiety due to the economy, environment and job instability. Children also show signs of stress because their parents are stressed.
Another trigger which Margaret notes is dust allergens, which flare up especially when she is around her daughters’ horses and in the cold and wind. In fact, Margaret used to ride horses and compete herself but had to give up because the symptoms got so bad it became a health and safety issue.
With dry eye disease causing such problems it is surprising to find that 36 percent of people remain unaware of the symptoms and almost a third (32 percent) wait to see if symptoms go away by themselves.
It is important to note that if left untreated dry eye disease can lead to numerous health problems such as:
- Eye infections
- Eye inflammation
- Abrasion of the corneal surface
- Corneal ulcers
- Severe cases of vision loss.
Due to this it makes it even more important that individuals are aware of dry eye disease, which in addition to sore, cracked eyes include:
- Light sensitivity
- More watery than normal.
When suffering from flare-ups Margaret explained that she regularly feels self-conscious and embarrassed in public when her eyes are puffy or sore which has an impact on the rest of the family too.
As a business development manager for a catering company, most of her work is face to face, making meetings with colleagues and clients even worse. Her dry eyes have, and still do, impact her work, particularly when she has a flare-up.
In order to try and curb what she classifies as embarrassing symptoms, she likes to wear make-up, in particular eye make-up but cannot when her eyes are too sore.
However, after years of suffering, she now knows the earlier signs of when a flare-up is about to happen and so works around this.
In addition, to resolve her flare-ups, she uses an appropriate eyelid cleansing wipe to keep her eyes clean and a preservative-free eye drop to keep her eyes hydrated.
This is something that optometrist and dry eye expert Sarah Farrant encourages individuals to do in order to maintain and prevent the symptoms of dry eye.
She shared that the correct eye self-care routine individuals should be following involves four important steps. These are as follows:
It is also important for Brits to get regular eye tests, which can not only identify dry eye disease but a number of eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts. Early diagnosis of certain conditions can prevent or delay more serious damage.
After sharing her story Margaret’s lasting message is as follows: finding the correct dry eye drop that works for you and your eyes is paramount, as well as making sure you have the correct lid cleansing routine for removing eye make-up.
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