Dry eye syndrome (DES), or Dry Eye Disease (DED) is a chronic condition that result from either reduction in tear production or quick tear evaporation from the eye’s surface meaning a lack of lipid (oil layer) keeping the tear layer intact. Either, or both together, results in many different symptoms depending on the patient. New Era Eye Care is a certified dry eye clinic and Dr. O’Donnell always practices based on knowing “something can always be done to help”.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the condition and include but not limited to:
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Burning or stinging
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Eye pain
- Foreign body sensation
The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a chronic condition that result from either reduction in tear production or quick tear evaporation from the eye’s surface meaning a lack of lipid (oil layer) keeping the tear layer intact. As a multi-reasoned problem treatment should include a multi-faceted plan.
Causes of Dry Eye Disease
Dry eyes can occur naturally as a result of aging or hormonal changes, typically in women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or going through menopause. In fact, women over 50 have a 50% greater risk of dry eye disease than men do of the same age. It can also result from taking certain medications that reduce tear production such as antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antidepressants. Environmental factors can also play a role in drying out the eyes and DED is common in areas where the climate is dry, dusty and windy. Home air conditioners or heating systems and excessive time spent staring at a computer or television screen can also dry out eyes and exacerbate symptoms due to the lack of blinking while staring at our screens.
Individuals that suffer from certain medical conditions such as diabetes, blepharitis, lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems are more vulnerable to developing DED. Other causes can be due to eye surgery including LASIK, certain conditions in which the eyelids don’t close properly or extended contact lens use.
Obviously, the causes can be many but help simply starts with a thorough eye evaluation.
Diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease in Shavertown
Typically, dry eye disease can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam and a description of your symptoms. On some occasions the eye doctor might decide to do a test that measures how quickly your tears evaporate from the surface of your eye. By instilling a simple dye called fluorescein (much like food coloring) the doctor is able to watch and count how long it takes the tears to start to break up after they’ve asked you to hold your eyes open after a blink. This is called TBUT or a Tear Break Up Time test. A low TBUT generally indicates a lipid (aka oil) deficiency in the tears resulting from oil glands in the eyelids not functioning properly. frequently than a TBUT test. Many other diagnostic tests exist such as assessing the osmolarity (solution concentration) of the tears, but nothing can be diagnosed without the initial, thorough eye examination. Call, schedule an appointment and start on the path of good vision and ocular comfort.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
There are many treatment options for dry eyes which are highly dependent upon the cause and severity of the condition. Dr. O’Donnell believes in what New Era Eye Care calls a pyramid of treatment. The base of the pyramid is education, knowing why Dry Eye Disease occurs, what happens (symptoms) and assuring something can be done to help (treatment).
Moving up the pyramid is non-invasive palliative treatment for example lid therapy to enhance stability of tears and/or use of over the counter ocular lubrication to help regain the natural tears lost. As the severity of the condition rises so does the movement up the treatment pyramid to punctal occlusion where the natural tears are prevented from leaving the ocular surface and give comfort. Or thermal pulsation to the lid glands, specifically Lipiflow®, an amazing technology that reinvigorates the glands of the lids. Finally, at the top of the pyramid remains even more potential help with medicinal forms and the newly engineered treatment of Amniotic Dry Eye Membrane treatment, Prokera.
While an overview as New Era Eye Care believes something can be always be done to help. It has to begin with a thorough eye health evaluation. Call today 570-704-3993 to schedule an appointment.
Preventing Dry Eyes
If you believe the cause is more external some suggestions include, but not limited to, avoid dry environments, hair dryers, heaters and fans, (particularly directed toward the eyes) and smoky environments. If working on computer or any digital image always remember the 20/20/20 rule which is every 20 minutes take a break from your digital image unit, stare at an object more than 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Further options (many more exist) such as avoiding rubbing your eyes and/or staying hydrated are helpful. As Dr. O’Donnell always offers patients the best prevention is education and knowing you have Dry Eye Disease. That cannot occur unless you have a thorough eye evaluation.