Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye syndrome can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor. We take your symptoms into account, including the eyes feeling dry, burning, itchy or irritated. Watery eyes and blurry vision are also common because the tears, which protect the outermost surface of the eye, can be unstable.
Q: Is Dry Eye more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
A: It's unclear. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic multi-factorial disease process in which signs and symptoms don't always correlate with one another. Some patient may be more sensitive in certain seasons than others, depending on the humidity level, wind factor, working environment, and other variables. Screening for this common and chronic condition is crucial to maintaining a healthy and stable tear film, no matter the season, and should not be based on symptoms alone.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause, severity, and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If over-the-counter eye drops are insufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Lid hygiene as well as omega-3 fish oil supplementation can improve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications as well as punctal plugs are also available if needed for treatment.
Q: What happens at a dry eye exam?
A: To diagnose dry eye disease, the eye doctor can use a biomicroscope to examine whether there are plugged oil glands in the lid or any dry patches on the cornea present. A yellow stain called fluorescein can help us see how quickly the tears evaporate. We also look for eyelid issues like blepharitis (inflamed crusty lids) or Demodex mites which can worsen dry eye symptoms.
Q: What can I do to prevent dry eyes?
A: Dry eyes are caused by many factors. If you know you have dry eyes, try to pay attention to what makes them feel better or worse. For example, do not blow your hair dryer directly towards your eyes. Add moisture to the air with a humidifier. Use eye protection outdoors like wrap around sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Be mindful of changes in your environment (traveling). Position your computer screen below eye level. Stop smoking and avoid smoky areas. Supplement with lubricating eye drops and Omega 3 (orally).