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Suffering from dry eyes?

Dry eye syndrome (also known as dry eyes or keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is when the eye does not create enough tears or the tears that it does produce evaporate too quickly. Both men and women can suffer from the condition, although women are at higher risk, as are people aged over 60.

Most of us don't think much about the importance of tears, and only notice them when we're crying or laughing. But tears are constantly there and protect our eyes from infections, protect them from dust, act as a lubricant, and help keep them clean.

There are various causes of dry eyes including the environment, hormonal changes, side effects from medicines and ageing.

There is no cure for the condition, but eye drops can fight the symptoms quite effectively. Sometimes if other treatments fail, surgery may be the only option.

Symptoms of dry eyes can be eyelids sticking together when waking up, red eyes and feelings of dryness or pain that gets worse throughout the day. You can also experience more severe symptoms that include sensitivity to light, very red and painful eyes and poorer vision. If you notice the more severe symptoms, the NHS suggest that you should see your GP as soon as you can or go to hospital and get it checked out. Leaving severe symptoms untreated can lead to permanent eye damage.

Sometimes severe cases can lead to complications like conjunctivitis, which is not a serious condition but can lead to one. In some cases, dry eyes can lead to ulceration of the cornea which can be quite serious.

Once diagnosed, the symptoms of dry eyes can usually be treated quickly and simply. If you are concerned about dry eyes or if you notice dryness or discomfort of the eye, it's a good idea to talk to your GP. A simple course of eye drops often prevents further problems.

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