Dry eyes affect people of all ages and can have a significant impact on our eye health, comfort and vision. As a result of the impact of dry eye, it has become extensively reviewed in clinical studies and research across the world to create the TFOS DEWS II report of Dry Eye Disease.
To paraphrase and explain the clinical definition from this report, Dry Eye Disease is:
a) ‘caused by many factors’- Varying degrees of dry eye can be caused by our well known dry environment, by extended computer use and screen time, numerous medical conditions and sometimes the medications that are used to treat them, and of course, good old aging eyes.
b) ‘affecting the ocular surface with a change and loss of proper tear film’- Our tears are produced by numerous glands in our eyelids, consisting of a blend of oil, mucus, and moisture. The proper amount and consistency of these components is assessed by your Optometrist. We will explain the reason for the changes, discussing the anatomy of your eyes, and the structural changes that are causing your symptoms.
c) ‘which leads to eye surface damage, discomfort or pain, and reduced quality or consistency of vision’ – Our doctors will determine if dry eyes are affecting your vision, often having to first treat and improve your dry eyes before finalizing your eye prescription. Along with the eye surface health assessment, we will discuss your home, work, and play environments, and the frequency and degree of your symptoms, to design a customized treatment plan for you.
d) ‘the study continues the evaluation of causes and pathway of all forms of dry eye, in order to develop and assess new management and treatment of dry eye’ – Our doctors continually upgrade their education to keep current with the diagnosis and advanced treatment of Dry Eye Disease.
You do not have to live with chronic red, dry, burning eyes. A comprehensive eye exam will always include the review of all parts of your eye health, but be sure to discuss your vision concerns and symptoms so that your Optometrist can assess your specific cause and degree of Dry Eye.
To combat some of the most common causes, here are some helpful habits to consider- take vision breaks from work, studying and hobbies, make sure you always remove makeup at night, use clean makeup, and take care of your contact lenses properly.
We have a host of treatment choices to improve your eye health and vision comfort. Selecting the specific type of eye drops for moisture and actually improving your tear chemistry, gentle warm compress and lid cleansing solutions and procedures, often prescription drops are needed, and even in-office advanced treatments are available. When more detailed combined therapy is recommended, your Optometrist will monitor the progress and modify the plan as needed, with the goal to find a comfortable and easy maintenance program.
Watch for our next Dry Eye Treatment edition for many more helpful hints!
Dr. Bernadette Osiowy