Dry Eye Q&A with Dr. Friedman
Dry Eye symptoms can fluctuate throughout the year. The winter months are by far the worst as the air is quite dry and contributes to even greater tear evaporation. A room humidifier in your bedroom during the winter months can really be a huge benefit for dry eye patients.When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
Dry eye disease is Vision Threatening! Many people consider it a minor nuisance, but dry eye is one of the major causes of reduced or fluctuating vision. That, plus studies show that if you don’t treat dry eye disease aggressively in the early stages, it can be MUCH harder to treat as it gets worse. See your optometric physician when the symptoms of dry, burny, itchy, teary eyes begin or when you start to notice fluctuating vision in order to maximize your chances for a successful outcome.
A dry eye evaluation contains additional testing not routinely performed during an annual routine eye examination. Tear chemical analysis through a painless tear collection process allows us to see the biochemistry of what is occurring in your eyes. Elevated osmolarity might indicate that one treatment might be better than another. The presence of MMP-9 in your tears may indicate a different treatment approach. There are different causes of dry eye disease and a specific analysis will lead to a specific treatment best for your individual eyes.
In what is often the most confounding symptom, teary eyes are often dry eyes! That sounds crazy! However, remember that dry eye doesn’t just mean that a patient doesn’t have enough tears, it can also mean that the tears are of poor QUALITY. If poor tear quality is to blame, often people will have excessive tearing with watery tears that don’t properly coat and adhere to the eye and instead just roll off the eyeball onto the cheeks.
Treatment is specific to the type of dry eye disease present. We use prescription eye drops, oral nutraceutical supplements, lid cleansers, heat masks, laser procedures, punctal plugs, and autologous serum drops depending on what is best for a individuals particular case. Often we use various treatments in conjunction with others in order to find the best regimen to maintain good eye comfort, health and long term preservation of the best vision possible.
Dry eye disease can effect anyone, however, people with other auto immune diseases, women, contact lens wearers, people who have had previous eye surgeries including LASIK, people utilizing hormone replacement therapy, people who spend a tremendous number of hours on electronic devices, and those over the age of 50 are all at a greater risk.
In addition to other treatments our doctors prescribe, there are things you can do to help!
- Avoid ceiling fans while you sleep and turn the blowers off your face in the car. The constant air movement over your eyes will lead to a greater evaporation of the tears.
- Increase your intake of healthy omega 3 Fatty Acids ( salmon, broccoli, walnuts). Use a room humidifier in the winter, take frequent breaks from the computer and remember to fully blink! It is surprising how many people will stare at the computer screen and forget to blink. A full complete blink is necessary to help create and distribute tears properly.
The most important thing you should know about dry eyes is that you do not have to suffer. Treatments are available to increase moisture on your eye and reduce the uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. If you are suffering, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and get the relief you deserve.