Dry Eye Syndrome: Play your Cards Right

DRY EYEDry eye syndrome is an uncomfortable condition that affects more than 20 million Americans. If you are one of them, you know the challenge of playing the cards you’re dealt. When dry eyes flare up, there are certain steps that must be followed to improve comfort. Getting the results you want means that you have played your cards right. Let’s look at how you can do that.

Card Number One: Attribution

The logical first step in addressing dry eye symptoms is to attribute them to some other condition. Your eyes are itchy, red, and watery because of your contact lenses. You feel a foreign body sensation because you aren’t blinking enough when you’re working at the computer. This kind of assumptions lead dry eye sufferers to ditch their contact lenses for a few days; it may even lead them to take a short break from technology. It may not, however, resolve the issue.

Card Number Two: Eye Drops

Eye drops can easily seem like the perfect solution to dry, itchy eyes. After all, the obvious issue at hand is a lack of lubrication! At first, dry eye sufferers tend to achieve their desired improvement and comfort when they use lubricating eye drops. In many situations, however, these people find that results last only a short time.

Card Number Three: Turning up the Heat

There is the valid reason to believe that warm compresses can improve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In many cases, this approach does alleviate discomfort. Like eye drops, however, this is short-lived because the cause of dryness is not successfully corrected.

Throwing down the Ace

To win the game against dry eye syndrome, it is necessary to play the right card. This requires an accurate assessment of your opponent. In many cases, dry eye syndrome results from a blockage in the meibomian glands located in the eye. With that in mind, researchers have developed ways to unblock these glands and restore optimal tear production that contains adequate levels of both aqueous fluid and oil.

We are here to help you with your concerns related to vision and eye health with treatment designed around YOU. Give The Eye Associates Meridian office a call at 208-342-5151 to schedule your consultation. You can reach our Caldwell office at 208-459-0717.

Dry Climate Shouldn’t Equal Dry Eyes

dry eyesIn Idaho, the climate can be so dry at times that it’s like we’re in Death Valley. You’d think that in this climate everyone would have dry eyes and people in places like Miami would never deal with the problem.

Truth is, dry eye is an ocular disease and not a response to the humidity in a particular area. At The Eye Associates, we have extensive experience with dry eye and its treatment.

What is dry eye?

Since they’re exposed to the air, our eyes create a natural thin film of tears to combat the exposure. It is a continual process. This layer keeps the eyes from drying out and protects them from potential damage from dust, the wind, and other stuff in the environment. When a person’s body doesn’t produce enough tears to provide this protective layer, or when the tears produced are substandard quality, then the eyes become exposed to irritants in the environment.

Patients with dry eye experience irritation on the conjunctiva or a feeling of a slight stinging, burning, or itching. Because of their damage to the sensitive membranes in the eyes, if left untreated dry eyes can escalate into impaired vision.

What causes dry eye?

Dry eye is usually caused by the inability of the patient to produce enough tears to properly lubricate the eyes. This can happen when the lacrimal glands are impaired and cannot physically produce enough tears. This happens more frequently as patients age, when they are suffering from other medical conditions, or when decreased tear production is a side effect of a treatment regimen or medication.

Also, tears of subpar quality can be produced and lead to dry eye. To be effective, tears must be comprised of three significant layers: a water layer, oil layer, and a mucin layer. If any of these layers is missing or insufficient, the patient’s tears will not sufficiently protect the eye.

Treatment

Dry eye is the most common reason patients see their eye care professional, other than normal eye exams. It is estimated that 55 million Americans have dry eye. Treatment for dry eye with The Eye Associates team could include discontinuation of a drug being taken by the patient, once the reaction has been ascertained. It also could be found that the patient’s eyelids are overly small or they don’t blink correctly. In these cases, surgery may be needed. Finally, medications that stimulate lubrication of the eye may be prescribed.

Are your eyes itching, stinging, and burning? Call us at The Eye Associates in Meridian (208-342-5151) or Caldwell (208-459-0717) to schedule your appointment.

Do You Have Dry Eye Syndrome?

dry eyesDry eye syndrome (or simply dry eye) is caused when the surface of your eye is not sufficiently lubricated or when your tears are inconsistent and evaporate too quickly. You may also experience inflammation on the surface of your eye which, if left untreated, can cause pain, ulcers, corneal scars and vision problems.

What Causes Dry Eye?
There are several things that can cause dry eye, including:

  • Certain medications. Nasal decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medication, and anti-depressants are among the medications that contribute to dry eye.
  • Pregnancy. Dry eye is prevalent in pregnant women due to hormonal changes, particularly a drop in male hormones.
  • LASIK surgery patients. Dry eye can occur after you’ve had refractive surgery, and it can last anywhere from three to six months, or sometimes longer.
  • Vitamin deficiency. Vitamins are responsible for helping to make tears, so a lack of vitamins can increase the risk of dry eye, especially when it comes to vitamin A, folate and vitamin B-6.
  • Hormone replacement therapy. Women on HRT are more likely to have dry eye symptoms, more so in women who are taking estrogen only versus those who are taking both estrogen and progesterone.
  • Staring at a computer screen. Computer use can cause dry eye because you’re likely to blink less when looking at your screen for long periods of time.
  • Conjunctiva inflammation. When the membrane that lines your eyelid and covers part of your eye (called the conjunctiva) becomes inflamed, it’s called conjunctivitis, and dry eye is a symptom of this condition.

What You Can Do
To combat dry eye, consider the following treatments:

  • Over-the-counter artificial tears, gels or ointments
  • Eyewear that wraps around the face or with side shields
  • Humidifier to add moisture to the air
  • Air purifier to filter out dust and particles

If your dry eye is severe, it’s best to visit your eye doctor. He or she may prescribe eye medication or outpatient treatment to help your eyes produce more tears.
To learn more about detecting and treating dry eye or for questions regarding our services, contact our office or call 208.342.5151 in Meridian or 208.459.0717 in Caldwell. We look forward to hearing from you!