Dr. Van Dran Answers Your Questions on Dry Eye
Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Many factors affect dry eye symptoms. Heaters may reduce the amount of humidity in the air significantly. Often people are more sedentary in cold weather and spend more time on their computers or reading. Because visual tasks reduce the blink rate significantly dry eye is worse.
When should a person come in to see our Silver City optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
When simple solutions like artificial tears no longer give adequate relief, ask our eye doctor in Silver City, New Mexico for more options.
What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
A basic examination to determine the presence of dry eye includes a thorough case history asking questions about symptoms and their timing, medical conditions and medications used to treat them, and remedies which help and irritants which worsen the symptoms. A thorough evaluation of the health of the lids looking for any signs of infection and inflammation should be done. Sodium fluorescein is a color added to the tears which highlights damage caused by dryness. With this information our Silver City optometrist is able to initiate a first treatment plan.
I have a friend in whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?
A simple way to look at excess tearing is, if the eye is not able to coat the surface with a good quality tear which stays in place, it floods the surface instead. Meibomian gland dysfunction is a common cause. Without the proper outer oily surface, the tears break up too rapidly and the eye dries quickly.
What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
Artificial tears are like lotion for the eyes’ surface. Frequent use of Systane is my first treatment. The Systane line of products may coat the eyes up to 40 minutes. All other drops dissipate between 11 and 20 minutes. If symptoms remain uncontrolled, your optometrist will diagnose the cause of the dryness and treat appropriately. Meibomian gland dysfunction, inflammation caused by allergies, and blepharitis caused by mites or bacteria all require their own treatment regimens.
Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Incidence of dry eye increases with age. People who spend much of their time driving, working on the computer, and reading are also more likely to suffer. Some medications such as anti-histamines decongestants and anti-depressants can also cause dry eye.
Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues?
Decreasing the amount of time spent on computers and hand-held devices can help. Blinking harder and more often when doing visual tasks can help, as well. There is some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed oil can reduce inflammation in the glands to produce healthier tears.
What are common medications that may cause dry eye symptoms?
Antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications and oral contraceptives may increase dry eye symptoms. Some of the high blood pressure medications as well as some muscle relaxants and pain medications can also cause dry eye. Medications that dry the mouth will often dry the eyes as well.
Does lasik and other eye surgeries affect/cause dry eyes?
The incisions made during LASIK and cataract extraction often cause temporary increase in dry eye symptoms.
Are women more likely to have dry eye symptoms than men?
Yes, hormone imbalances of estrogen and progesterone and autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are common causes of dry eye which happen more in women than men
Is there a link between menopause, birth control, pregnancy and dry eyes?
All include changes in estrogen and progesterone balance. These changes can cause dry eye.
Are there any tips that can help me with my dry, painful and watery eyes?
In the same way that not all lotions are the same, not all artificial tears are equal. The Systane line of products have the longest contact time on the market. Other product lines target specific tear film imbalances. If you have chapped lips or very dry hands you apply lip balm or lotion frequently enough to overcome the dryness. Choosing one product and using it consistently and frequently for a few days can often overcome dryness caused by the environment and visual activities. Preventing inflammation caused by ocular allergies with the long-acting antihistamine ketotifen can also help. Avoid any products with decongestants that “get the read out” as they cause dryness.
Ever since I started HRT/Estrogen I have experienced dry and painful eyes, is it related?
Hormone replacement therapy, because it changes the balance of estrogen and progesterone can indeed cause worsening dry eye symptoms.