Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye can cause quite a few symptoms, anything from the eyes actually feeling dry to the eyes watering often, or having a burning, itchy, or irritated feeling. One of the most common symptoms is the eyes feeling gritty or like something is in your eye. Most people will often experience blurred vision since the tears, which comprise the outermost surface of the eye, are unstable.
Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn't always black and white. 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. Therefore, 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 varies due to the severity and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If artificial tears are not sufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Also, 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 is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: As part of a regular eye examination we will inquire about use of eye drops and whether the patient has any discomfort or redness which may be dry eye related. We will also take a careful look with the biomicroscope to see if plugged oil glands in the lid or any dry patches on the cornea are present. We often use a yellow stain called fluorescein to 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).