Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Dry eyes are most commonly caused from an individual not being able to produce healthy tears. This is NOT affected by a change of seasons. Many people feel more symptoms during allergy season, or warmer months when they are in a dry air-conditioned environment.
Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
A general guideline is that eye exams should be performed annually to check the health and wellness of your eyes. If you feel discomfort and dryness in your eyes at least once a week, or if you habitually use OTC rewetting drops, you should seek help from an optometrist to screen you for dry eye syndrome.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes? Testing for dry eyes varies from person to person. Most commonly, our doctors will use special equipment to measure how wet your eyes get with each blink you take. More extensive testing can measure how quickly those tears evaporate. In some cases we will take infrared imaging of the actual glands inside your eyelids that produce the oil that lubricates your eyes.
Q: I have a friend in whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?
Weepy eyes that are always watery is actually a BIG indicator of dry eye syndrome. When our tears don’t have enough lubrication or mucous they wash away from the eye like water on a feather. Our bodies response to this is to keep flooding the eye with more tears to keep it from drying out. The correct treatment for this is to introduce more oil and mucous back into the tear system.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
Treatments vary on the type and severity of dry eye. Mild cases can be treated with prescription drops and oral vitamins. Chronic and severe cases require in-office procedures such as Lipiflow and Blephex. These procedures are designed to unclog glands and resurface the eyelid. Think of it like getting new windshield wipers for your car and changing the fluid.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Studies show a direct link to excessive computer usage and dry eyes. There are other factors involved as well such as genetics, diet, medications, sleep, and other health factors.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues?
Consistent “eye breaks” for those who work on a computer for more than 4 hours a day is good practice. These breaks should be taken every 20 minutes taking time away from the screen for at least 20 seconds. It is vital that people have an annual eye exam, even if they don’t wear glasses. Our eyes are precious and it’s important that they are well taken care of.
Q: Do people have trouble producing tears? Does it have to do with MGD (Meibomian gland dysfunction)? Is it common?
MGD leads to people not producing the right “kind” of tears. The meibomian glands produce the oils that we need to keep eyes lubricated and to keep our tears from evaporating too quickly between blinks. There are many different kinds of problems people have with their tear quality. Ask your optometrist during your yearly eye exam to find out if you have dry eyes.