Do you suffer from dry eyes?
Persistent dryness, scratchiness, red eyes, watery eyes, and a burning sensation are all common symptoms of dry eyes. At Insight Optometrists, we have developed a dedicated dry eye clinic to assist patients suffering these symptoms by appropriately diagnosing and managing the specific type of dry eye that they have.
How Common Are Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes and dry eye symptoms are extremely common. A recent consumer survey commissioned by Allergan suggests that dry eyes are even more common than what we previously thought.
The survey found:
- 48% of adults regularly experience dry eye symptoms.
- 42% of women age 45 to 54 who have dry eye symptoms report blurred vision associated with the condition.
- Women more frequently than men report having difficulty using a computer due to dry eye symptoms (62% vs. 44%).
- 43% of adults with dry eye symptoms say they experience difficulty reading due to their symptoms.
- Among adults age 55 and older, 30% of men and 19% of women say they have experienced dry eye symptoms for more than 10 years.
- 19% of adults say they use over-the-counter eye drops at least five times per week to treat dry eye symptoms.
- 63% of adults who use non-prescription eye drops to treat dry eyes say the drops are not effective or only somewhat effective in managing their symptoms.
The survey also found that 69% of respondents who experienced symptoms said they had not visited an eye care professional for dry eye treatment.
The Allergan Dry Eye Survey was conducted online in March 2011 by Harris Interactive, with 2,411 adults (age 18 and older) responding.
What can you do?
Eye drops and other lubricants: Not all eye-drops are the same. As there are different kinds of dry eyes; there are also different types of eye-drops tailored to each type of dry eye. At Insight Optometrists, we have access to all the latest eye-drops and information on which would be most suited to your needs. If you wear contact lenses, just be careful as not all lubricating eye-drops are contact lens compatible.
Blocked meibomian glands: Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is now recognized as a primary cause or contributor to most cases of dry eye. The Blephasteam® is a medical device which delivers latent heat therapy to the eyelids in order to relieve the symptoms caused by MGD.
The aim of the Blephasteam® is to improve the consistency and quality of the oil layer of the tears which will lead to improve tear function. The oil layer of the tear film is produced by the meibomian glands of the eyelids, which in MGD may be blocked, hence causing Dry Eye Syndrome.
Blephasteam® treatment is an in-office procedure that heats these blocked meibomian glands and allows easy expression of these glands which will then improve ocular health, vision and comfort. At Insight Optometrists, we now offer the Blephasteam® treatment in office as part of our dry eye clinic, see in-store or contact us for more details.
Eyelid disease: Underlying eyelid diseases such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eye lids) should also be treated. This may require an antibiotic or steroid eye drops or a combination of the two drops. At Insight Optometrists, we have access to all the necessary treatment options for underlying eyelid disease and are therapeutically qualified to manage these conditions.
Your environment: If it is your environment that is causing the dry eyes, there are many different ways to combat the possible causes of your dry eye.
Environmental factors that could dehydrate the eyes and tear film could include:
- Air conditioning
- Wearing contact lenses
- Prolonged computer use
- Participation in extreme sports (with lots of perspiration and exposure to heat and sun)
- Caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Not drinking enough water
- Too much time spent indoors
- Cigarette smoking
- Certain medications
- Exposure to smoke, dust, wind, extreme heat and cold and other outdoor conditions
Ways to optimise your environment to combat dry eyes:
- Ideally avoiding the high-risk situations described above would benefit your dry eyes, however this is not always possible.
- Placing plants and/or dishes of water in a too-dry room
- Wearing sunglasses outdoors
- Drink eight to ten glasses of water per day.
- Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that's too dry because of air conditioning or heating.
Punctal occlusion Temporary or permanent silicone plugs can be inserted into the puncta of both eyes. The puncta are the opening of the drainage system for the tears in the eye, and the aim of occluding these openings is to allow more tears to remain in the eye. These plugs can be inserted painlessly while you're in our office and normally are not felt once inserted.
Nutrition and hydration Studies have found that supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can decrease dry eye symptoms. Good sources of omega-3s include cold-water fish, such as sardines, cod, herring and salmon and if fish is not your thing, flaxseed oil has also been shown to relieve dry eye. We have recently brought in TheraTears Nutrition (omega-3 Supplement with Fish Oil, Flaxseed Oil and vitamin E) soft gel capsules which have the necessary dosage of omega 3 to reach the eyes and improve the function of the glands that make tears. TheraTears Nutrition helps your eyelids produce a healthy oil layer that protects tears from evaporating, while at the same time promoting healthy tear production from the inside. As these improvements occur in the glands that produce tears, eye comfort will also improve. Insight Optometrists is one of the few stockists of TheraTears Nutrition in Australia which allows us to provide a wide-range of treatment options to patients for their dry eyes.
Drinking more water can help too. Mild dehydration often makes dry eye problems worse. This is especially true during hot, dry and windy weather. Simply drinking more water sometimes reduces the symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
Medications Dry eyes can also be caused by certain medications. Discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem however the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. In some cases, a different type of medication may continue to provide the needed treatment but also alleviates the dry eye symptoms. Never switch or discontinue your medications without asking your doctor first!
Contact lenses. If you are a contact lens wearer and are feeling the effects of dry eye, there are many options out there for you. Your eye care practitioner may want to switch the type of lens you wear, the solutions you use or change the amount of time that you wear your lenses. In some cases, it is recommended that contact lens wear be completely discontinued until the dry eye problem clears up. At Insight Optometrists, all the different lens types and solutions are available which will allow us to determine the best combination for you. Contact us for your free trial today.
So what now?
Here at Insight Optometrists we have access to all the resources required to treat the different types of dry eye. If anything mentioned in this article applies to you or you are interested in any particular subject discussed today, get in contact with our office and we can either book you in for a dry eye work-up or answer any questions you may have. Dry eyes are very common, and it’s only by discussing it that we can begin to treat the condition at its cause rather than just fixing the symptoms.