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What is 'dry eye' 'Dry eye' is one of the most common ocular complaints but it's not as simple as it sounds. It is a disorder of the tears and ocular surface that results in eye discomfort, visual disturbance, and often ocular surface damage. Producing insufficient tears is only one of several possible causes. Five to 30 percent of adults aged 50 years or older have some degree of dry eyes. It is more common in women than men and the prevalence is higher in Hispanic and Asian population Possible symptoms of dry eye syndrome include sore, watery, red eyes and scratchy, burning/stinging sensations on the eye Common risk factors of dry eyes have been identified. Examples of these include: old age, female gender; post-menopausal oestrogen therapy; a diet low in omega 3 essential fatty acids; refractive surgery; vitamin A deficiency; radiation therapy; some systemic conditions and certain classes of medications Causes of dry eye can be complex and vary between individuals, but a simple way of classifying its aetiology would be: Decreased tear production Excessive tear evaporation An abnormality in the production of mucus or lipids normally found in the tear layer Diagnosis often depends on a thorough history taking and clinical tests Management of dry eye depends on the causes and severity of the condition. Besides the conventional artificial tears and lubricants, other treatment options include topical agents such as cyclosporine, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories such as tetracycline, serum tear substitutes, punctual plugs, dietary supplementation such as essential fatty acids and environmental strategies Contact Lens Related ‘Dry Eye’ The presence of a contact lens on the eye creates several changes on the ocular environment, especially to the tear film and blink pattern. The changes are affected by the characteristics of the contact lens and some patients may experience dry eye symptoms. Ocular dryness related to contact lens wear is different from symptoms related to dry eye disease and could be one of the major issues relating to contact lens discomfort and discontinuation. This is a key area of concern with contact lens wear that the Brien Holden Vision Institute is currently tackling in its contact lens projects, including: Comfort Contact Lenses Comfort Solutions Meibomian Gland Dysfunction Meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eyes ‘Dry eye’ is one of the most common complaints by a patient consulting an eye care practitioner. The discomfort caused by dry eyes affects millions of people worldwide. In order to better understand and treat this condition, the Brien Holden Vision Institute is beginning an exciting new project to investigate one of the causes of dry eye known as meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian glands are found in the upper and lower eye lids and secrete an oily substance called meibum. This substance forms the upper lipid layer of the tear film which functions to protect the water-based tears underneath from evaporating. Hence, the presence of a good quality lipid layer is vital to the integrity and stability of the tear film, and subsequently ocular comfort Dysfunction of the meibomian gland occurs when the gland becomes blocked and/or the quantity or quality of the secretion alters Ocular discomfort such as itchiness, dryness and irritation often result Meibomian gland dysfunction is reported to affect 70% of people, with greater prevalence in Asian populations. It is believed to be associated with a form of dry eyes