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Dry Eye Treatment

What Is Dry Eye?

Three thin layers compose the tear film to coat and protect the eye.  When one of these components is missing or when too few tears are produced, the tear film breaks down producing dry areas on the eye.  This causes dry eye symptoms - a feeling of itchiness, grittiness, burning sensation, and discomfort.  The paradox of this disease is that most patients complain of watery eyes.  This is because of reflex tearing, which turns on the waterworks, but without lubrication, your eyes still feel dry like a waxed car in the rain. 

 

Aside from contact lens wear, the most prevalent cause of dry eye is natural aging.  At age 65, the eye produces 60% less lubrication than at age 18.  Systemic inflammatory conditions such as rosacea and arthrtitis contribute to the severity of dry eye.  Several medications and dry environments such as indoor winter heating exacerbates dry eye.  As well, computer use is a contributing facts as “when we think we don't blink” while reading or especially on the computer; inflammatory systemic diseases such as arthritis are also associated with dry eye.

 

During a regular eye exam, Dr. Workman assesses the lubricating ability of the tear film using a yellow dye applied to the eye in conjunction with a biomicroscope.  Traditional treatments include a variety of artificial tear products.  Many of the new ocular lubricants last longer and are more effective in coating the eye.  Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (fish oil or flaxseed oil) are now standard treatment.

 

Although there is no cure for dry eye, there are new prescription treatments for dry eye that include anti-inflammatory drops, lid wipes and oral medication available on prescription from pharmacists such as Doug Brown at Pharmacy Associates. 

How Is Dry Eye Treated?

For any red eye or allergy, Dr. Workman provides prompt ocular health assessment using a slit lamp (basically a large, table‑mounted microscope with a chin rest) with a yellow dye. This instrument is essential to properly diagnose any pink eye, but is not available in your walk-in clinic.  It is crucial that more serious conditions, such as iritis are ruled out; accurate diagnosis leads to proper treatment and resolution.  Like most local optometrists, in addition to testing for ocular diseases such as pink eye, dry eye and glaucoma, Dr. Workman is also certified to prescribe the medication to treat them, thus, providing continuity of care without the need to involve another eye doctor for a simple Rx.