“Dry eye is not just about grandma and grandad”

Air conditioning was sparse and mobile phones non-existent when Nick Howard first qualified in 1984. He highlights the rise of dry eye in a digital age


Contact lens optician, Nick Howard, shared seven questions to ask potential dry eye patients during his presentation at 100% Optical (12–14 January, ExCeL London).

He encouraged practitioners to ask patients whether they were experiencing symptoms, such as dryness and burning, in both eyes and how long these symptoms had lasted for.

They should also check whether the patient experienced pain, mouth dryness and if their symptoms were precipitated by an event.

Practitioners should find out whether a patient’s vision clears when they blink and if they have eye redness or swelling.

Mr Howard added that checking whether patients wear contact lenses is also important.

Mr Howard, who works three days a week in the NHS, said that the greatest challenge in his work was not fitting contact lenses.

“What’s difficult for me is keeping the ocular surface nice and tidy,” he shared.

Mr Howard highlighted the impact of environmental factors on the increasing prevalence of dry eye, noting that there were no mobile phones and minimal air conditioning when he first qualified in 1984.

Mobile phone use has lowered the blink rate of patients, resulting in less stimulation of the meibomian glands.

He said that practitioners should not just focus on one age group when assessing who is at risk of developing the condition.

“Dry eye is not just about grandma and grandad,” he observed.

Dry eye treatments that practitioners can consider include preservative-free drops, appropriate lid hygiene and BlephEx.

He also recommended omega three supplements as a more long-term approach to managing the condition.

Image credit: Dan Foy