Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye can cause quite a few symptoms, anything from the eyes actually feeling dry to the eyes watering often, or having a burning, itchy, or irritated feeling. One of the most common symptoms is the eyes feeling gritty or like something is in your eye. Most people will often experience blurred vision since the tears, which comprise the outermost surface of the eye, are unstable.
Q: What are some of the warning signs of Dry Eye? How is it best detected?
A: Warning signs can accumulate quite gradually over many years. Not uncommonly among contact lens wearers, they may incorrectly assume the lenses are old and need to be replaced. Other times the eyes water a bit more, or burn, or itch. Many, many cases are sub-clinical – they can only be diagnosed with the use of microscopic detection and special equipment! We look at tear quality, tear meniscus, and gland structure. Research has pointed towards the testing of tear osmolarity as a reliable indicator of the disease in terms of pre-treatment and post-treatment situations.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: Treatment for dry eye varies due to the severity and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If artificial tears are not sufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Also, lid hygiene as well as omega-3 fish oil supplementation can improve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications as well as punctal plugs are also available if needed for treatment.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: As part of a regular eye examination we will inquire about use of eye drops and whether the patient has any discomfort or redness which may be dry eye related. We will also take a careful look with the biomicroscope to see if plugged oil glands in the lid or any dry patches on the cornea are present. We often use a yellow stain called fluorescein to see how quickly the tears evaporate. We also look for eyelid issues like blepharitis (inflamed crusty lids) or demodex mites which can worsen dry eye symptoms.