Dry Eye Syndrome Eye Exam
One of the most common ocular complaints heard by eye doctors nationwide is burning, dryness, grittiness, mildly blurry vision, and sometimes even excessive tearing. All of these symptoms can be summed up as dry eye syndrome. The typical patient is usually female, over 35 years of age and may or may not be wearing contact lenses. Dryness may become more severe with menopause. Symptoms can often be exacerbated by smoke, heat, wind, low humidity, and or prolonged near vision associated with daily computer use. Seasonal allergies, prescription medications, and systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis may also cause symptoms of discomfort. Oral antihistamines, tricyclic antidepressants, and oral contraceptives can also lead to symptoms of dryness in patients. The severity of the symptoms may also cause some patients to abandon contact lens wear altogether or to suffer in silence with chronic use of expensive drug store lubricants that do little to treat the actual problem.
The first step of dry eye therapy is usually supportive in nature. Your doctor will examine the integrity of the cornea, and tear film, using special diagnostic stains with the biomicroscope. These dyes highlight areas of desication and friction from the lids or contact lens worn. Various tests may need to be performed to determine the cause of the dryness such as tear quantity production, tear quality assessment, and tear drainage evaluation. As mentioned earlier, a throrough health history will also need to be taken to determine if the dryness is organically or systemically related. In mild cases, with the proper artificial tear used at the correct dosing frequency, symptoms may be minimized or eliminated altogether. In more moderate to severe cases, silicone plugs may need to be instilled under local anaesthetic to reduce tear loss from the cornea by slowing the drainage of the tears produced. In other cases, a systemic medication may be advised to reduce the inflammation associated with dry eye syndrome. A medication like Restasis is available by prescription, and helps to increase the quantity of tears produced, as well as the quality of the tears, by reducing the inflammatory elements that cause our own tears to be irritating to the tissues. Only with a dry eye assessment can these issues be explored. Call your eye doctor today to schedule an evaluation. Most medical insurances will cover these visits and may also cover the supportive therapies needed to treat the condition such as punctal occlusion or plugs, and prescription eye drops like Restasis and Lotemax.