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Posts Categorized: Dry Eye

It’s Workplace Eye Safety Month

A Spotlight on Digital Eye Strain

March in San Jose is a beautiful time of year! And with the kids on spring break, you may not want to talk about work, but March is also Workplace Eye Safety Month. And at Eye Medical Clinic, we care about your eyes!

Different Workplaces, Different Safety Protocols

When your job is in a manufacturing setting, you have to worry about things like debris, chemicals and flying objects such as metal, wood and glass. Safety glasses and goggles are the top safety tool to protect your eyes. In a healthcare setting, face shields can protect your eyes from chemicals and bodily fluids.

But when you work in front of a computer all day (like so many of us do!), it’s a different kind of eye damage you have to be on the lookout for. With more remote learning and remote work happening than ever before, at Eye Medical Clinic, we believe it’s the ideal time to spotlight a growing problem; digital eye strain.

Protecting Your Eyes in the Digital Age

Keeping your eyes safe at work includes at your desktop and on your smartphone and other devices. According to The Vision Council, over 60% of Americans report symptoms of digital eye strain, which may include blurriness, redness, fatigue, dry eye, headache and neck and shoulder stress. There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of digital eye strain, also known as computer vision syndrome (CVS).

  • Follow the “20-20-20 rule”—take a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes and look at an object 20 feet away.
  • Use proper lighting; one way is to reduce overhead lighting to eliminate screen glare.
  • Adjust computer display settings: increase text size and contrast for comfort, and adjust the brightness of the display, so it’s close to the same brightness of your surroundings.
  • Position your screen approximately 26-30 inches away—about an arm’s distance—from eye level for proper viewing distance when at a computer. Our eye care specialists can help you determine which distance is best for your personalized needs and workstation during your routine comprehensive eye exam..
  • Blink more often and take a few five-minute breaks throughout your work day.
  • Talk to your Eye Medical Clinic doctor about getting computer glasses; these are lenses with anti-reflective (AR) coating which reduces glare.

One of the most important things you can do to combat digital eye strain is to have a routine comprehensive eye exam at Eye Medical Clinic. A comprehensive eye exam will also find any dry eye issues, which often go hand in hand with digital eye strain. At Eye Medical Clinic, our advanced dry eye treatments administered by our dry eye specialists are among the best in the country.

At Eye Medical Clinic, we want you to See Every Moment with the vision you deserve. We are at the forefront of research and development in comprehensive eye care, including prevention and treatment. Schedule an appointment today for a consultation if you have any questions about keeping your eyes safe at work.

Study Shows Face Masks Associated with Increase in Dry Eye Symptoms

Okay, 2020, we’ve had it. Enough, already. A new study published in Ophthalmology and Therapy has found that wearing face masks has been associated with ocular irritation and dry eye symptoms.

Thanks to the COVID-19 world pandemic, face masks have become a normal part of everyone’s daily attire. Some people who work in professions like education, healthcare and hospitality have to wear a mask for long hours. Add that to having to wear it in the grocery store and every other store for that matter, and that’s a lot of daily face mask use.

As board-certified ophthalmologists with years of collective experience, our entire team of dedicated eye doctors have some useful information to share and strategies to suggest about face masks as they relate to your eyes and your vision.

“Regardless of the source of your Dry Eye symptoms,
we have some great solutions that can really help.”
—Dr. Jeanie Paik, Cornea Specialist

How Does a Face Mask Bother Your Eyes?

When wearing a face mask, your exhaled air is channeled upward, out the top of your face mask and over the surface of your eyes. If you’re wearing glasses or even sunglasses, you already know what happens; foggy glasses! We’ve all been there.

If you’re wearing glasses, this exhaled air can have a negative impact on your vision. But even if you’re not, it can negatively affect your eyes. The movement of the air over your eyes can cause your tears to evaporate more quickly, leaving the surface of the eye dry. After a long day of mask-wearing, your eyes can feel dry, gritty, irritated, watery and fatigued.

How to Combat Face Mask Dry Eye

Fit First. The first thing we recommend you do if you experience eye irritation after prolonged face mask use is to make sure your mask fits well and doesn’t have a large gap at the top. Try the kind that has the moldable nose bar.

Drop it. Lubricating eye drops may help relieve symptoms temporarily, but we always recommend seeing your eye doctor about which types of drops to use, as some over-the-counter varieties can make symptoms worse.

Rest is Best. With more people working and learning remotely than ever before, remember to be mindful of your screen time, as this can irritate already dry eyes as well. We recommend the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break from looking at the screen and focus on something 20 feet away.

Banish Dry Eye

Dry eye specialists at Eye Medical Clinic will perform a careful diagnostic exam to determine the source of your dry eye symptoms. Thorough testing leads to the best course of treatment and relief customized to your individual needs and issues.

We offer punctal plugs, which are tiny inserts gently placed into your eyelids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes. They help retain moisture and restore balance to your tear film. Our specialists are also trained in the medical treatment of your dry eye disease which may require prescription medication.

For more severe cases, Prokera and AmbioDisc are specialized contact lenses made with amniotic membranes with unique healing properties that act as a “nutrient boost” to the eye. One of our highly skilled specialists will gently place the amniotic membrane onto your eye and cover it with a clear, soft, disposable contact lens to hold the amniotic tissue in place. After a few days, the membrane fully dissolves, and the contact is removed. The cornea absorbs the nutrients that help to decrease the inflammation associated with dry eye.

Finally, scleral lenses can also be used for severe dry eye. These are large hard contact lenses that hold a reservoir of tears to hydrate your cornea in fluid all day. Your dry eye specialist will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan.

See Every Moment

Most insurance plans cover the dry eye procedures we offer at Eye Medical Clinic so don’t wait to find relief. Let’s finish 2020 strong! Schedule a dry eye consultation today.

It’s Never too Late to Focus on Seeing Every Moment

2020 has been a tough year, no doubt. Even still, across the world, people are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. And no matter how well (or not well) your year has gone so far, this month offers a chance for a renewed focus.

September is Healthy Aging Month. It’s a great time to focus on our senior population as it pertains to staying fit, staying active, staying safe and staying healthy. Here at Eye Medical Clinic, we are crazy about our senior patients and we are a trusted resource for all the eye-related issues that accompany aging.

Healthy Vision is a Priority in Every Season, But Especially as You Age

Something to know: vision loss isn’t a normal part of aging. That said, older individuals are at higher risk for certain eye diseases and conditions. Things like age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and dry eye, just to name a few. Some of these conditions have no early symptoms, but they are easily detected during a comprehensive eye exam (something you should have annually!).

Healthy Eyes for a Healthy Life

More than 40 million Americans are currently age 65 or older, and this number is expected to grow to more than 88 million by 2050. That’s a lot of seniors! By that same year, the number of Americans with age-related eye diseases is expected to double, and the number of people living with low vision is projected to triple. Early detection and treatment are key to saving sight.

If you have celebrated 50 (or more!) birthdays, here’s a tip. Come see us annually for a comprehensive eye exam. Having a dilated eye exam every year can help detect age-related eye diseases in their earliest stages. Early detection and treatment can help preserve your sight. Even if you are not experiencing vision problems, you should still take time for an annual eye exam. This is one of the best things you can do to make sure your one set of eyes stays healthy for a lifetime. And we’ll even sing happy birthday to you if you’d like!

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

People over the age of 50 are also at higher risk for developing Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD). This condition happens when a part of the retina called the macula is damaged. With AMD, you lose your central vision but your peripheral (side) vision will still be normal.

Did you know we have a fellowship-trained retina specialist on the team here at EMC? Well, we do! Dr. Tamer Hadi is our resident expert on all things retina related. If you haven’t met him, you should!

Life Beyond the Blur

Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over the age of 50. According to Prevent Blindness America, cataracts currently affect more than 22 million Americans. Important to know, cataracts cannot be treated with medication or changes to your lifestyle and diet. They must be surgically removed in order for vision to be restored. When cataracts begin to negatively affect your lifestyle and the activities you enjoy, it’s time to talk to an expert.

At Eye Medical Clinic, we offer the latest technologies and techniques in cataract surgery, including Laser-Assisted Cataract Surgery. Major advances in lens exchange procedures allow people just like you to continue to live their lives the way they want to live them. At Eye Medical Clinic, we offer a variety of Premium Lens Implants that can correct your cataracts AND reduce your dependency on glasses, bifocals and even readers.

Healthy Aging Month is the ideal time to schedule a cataract evaluation. If you haven’t met our Premium Lens Cataract Surgery, Dr. Jeanie Paik, you’re going to want to! She has the experience and the expertise to help you achieve restored and even improved vision. Take control of your health (including your eyes!). Whatever the rest of 2020 looks like, See Every Moment.

Eye Medical Clinic has built a reputation for quality eye care that generations of families have come to trust. We invite you to experience the VIP treatment every patient can expect to receive at Eye Medical Clinic. Our team of experienced doctors, as well as a highly trained staff, is dedicated to helping you enjoy your life to the fullest…with the clear vision you deserve.

Spotlight on World Optometry Day

World Optometry Day is March 23. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) recognizes this day as an opportunity to shine the spotlight on this key eye care profession and create awareness about optometry and its practices around the world.

At Eye Medical Clinic, it’s also an opportunity for us to shine the spotlight on our amazing Dr. Christina Nguyen Deane! She is a therapeutic optometrist at Eye Medical Clinic and our patients love her as much as we do!

Meet Dr. Deane

Dr. Deane sees patients for comprehensive eye exams and has a special interest and expertise in fitting specialty contact lenses for patients with keratoconus, eye trauma, corneal transplants and irregular corneas. She also specializes in cosmetic and multifocal contact lenses. If you thought you couldn’t wear contact lenses, you need to see Dr. Deane!

Before joining Eye Medical Clinic in 1995, Dr. Deane served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Medical Service Corps. After two years of service, she relocated with her family to Austin, Texas, where she built a thriving optometric practice. Upon returning to San Jose, she happily returned to the Eye Medical Clinic family in 2004. And we happily welcomed her home!

In addition to specialty contact lens fittings and comprehensive eye care, Dr. Deane is licensed to diagnose and treat primary care eye conditions. She loves helping patients achieve their personal best vision and is fluent in Vietnamese, which many in our Vietnamese patient population appreciate.

Do I Need an Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist?

We honestly love it when our patients ask questions during their appointments. We want you to feel like you have all the knowledge and tools you need to manage your vision. At Eye Medical Clinic, one of the questions we hear a lot is, “Do I need an optometrist or an ophthalmologist?” That’s a great question. And since World Optometry Day is around the corner, we thought it would be worth talking about in a little more detail. To better understand when you might need to see one versus the other, let’s take a look at what each type of professional is educated, trained and qualified to do.

Here’s a brief overview:

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors (MD) or osteopathic doctors (DO) who specialize in eye and vision care. Ophthalmologists differ from optometrists and opticians in the level of training and in what they can diagnose and treat. As a medical doctor who has completed college, medical school and residency, an ophthalmologist is licensed to practice medicine and perform surgery.

Ophthalmologists diagnose and treat all eye diseases, perform eye surgery to correct vision problems. While ophthalmologists are trained to care for all eye problems and conditions, some specialize in a specific area, completing additional, more in-depth training called a fellowship in areas such as glaucoma, retina, cornea, pediatrics, neurology and plastic surgery.

Optometrists are healthcare professionals who provide primary vision care ranging from sight testing and correction to the diagnosis, treatment and management of vision changes. An optometrist can manage pre and post-op care for eye surgeries, but the surgery itself will be performed by an ophthalmologist. An optometrist receives a doctor of optometry (OD) degree after completing four years of optometry school, preceded by an undergraduate degree.

Optometrists are licensed to practice optometry, which primarily involves performing eye exams and vision tests, prescribing and dispensing corrective lenses, detecting certain eye abnormalities and prescribing medications for certain eye diseases.

Trust the Santa Clara Valley Eye Experts

Eye Medical Clinic has built a team of ophthalmology and optometry experts who are ready and eager to meet your vision needs. Representing all of the disciplines of eye care, we want to be your go-to source for anything eye or vision-related. Our expertise often draws in patients for eye surgeries like cataract removal, but that expertise is also what makes us a great option for routine eye examinations.

Our focus on comprehensive eye health means we watch for anything and everything that might affect your eyes. From basic eye exams to dry eye check-ups, we strive to safeguard every aspect of your eye health. At Eye Medical Clinic, our comprehensive eye exams are more than simple vision tests. Before we check your vision, we run a number of diagnostic tests for a variety of eye conditions.

In addition to modern cataract surgery, we are able to diagnose and treat most eye conditions, including glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic eye disease and more. We even offer blepharoplasty for aging, puffy, tired-looking eyes.

At Eye Medical Clinic, our experienced team is made up of both board-certified ophthalmologists and a licensed optometrist. This experienced team works in lockstep to make sure every patient we are honored to serve is able to See Every Moment!

We invite you to experience our expert eye care for every generation at Eye Medical Clinic. We are dedicated to helping you enjoy your life to the fullest…with the clear vision you deserve.

What Causes Dry Eye?

The Science Behind Dry Eye and the Solutions Ahead

That irritating sensation when it feels like there’s something in your eye. You know what I’m talking about. And you’re looking and poking and rubbing…but can’t find the irritant. One of life’s little annoyances, for sure, but it can also signal something more—like dry eye.

National Eye Institute reports that more than 100 million people worldwide (30 million in the U.S.) suffer from dry eye.

San Jose enjoys an amazingly temperate climate with sunshine most of the year. Because…San Jose is awesome. But, because it is also situated inland and is surrounded on three sides by mountains, the region is more sheltered from rain, giving it a semi-arid (dry) feel.

Back to the above-mentioned annoyance. It could be allergies and there are easy solutions for that. But if it’s chronic dry eye, there is likely more involved. So, let’s explore symptoms, causes and solutions.

Dry eye symptoms may include:

  • Burning, itching
  • Blurry vision
  • Excessive dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Red eyes
  • Grittiness or feeling of something in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes (strange but true)

Dry eye science: If you have dry eye, it is because the quantity and/or quality of your tears fails to keep the surface of your eye adequately lubricated. Chronic dry eye abounds in San Jose, where the climate lacks moisture. Because of this phenomenon, dry eye syndrome can actually cause watery eyes, because excessive dryness can overstimulate the production of tears. Chronic dry eye, left untreated, can lead to anything from minor irritation to the inability to wear contact lenses and even an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.

Other Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye symptoms are also common among people who do a lot of near work (emailing, texting, working, gaming) on computers and smartphones for prolonged periods of time. Some contact lens wearers also complain of dry eye symptoms and even environmental factors such as sitting in an air-conditioned room for too long, and weather conditions including excessive sun, wind, hot dry air or high altitude can cause rapid evaporation of the eye’s tear film (aka dry eye).

A few medical conditions, certain eye diseases and autoimmune disorders are associated with dry eye. As is advancing age. Women are more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes (that impact tear production) linked to menstruation, pregnancy or menopause. Some medications such as certain antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers and diuretics can contribute to dry eyes, too.

That’s a lot of causes but don’t cry! We can help.

Dry Eye Relief

San Jose dry eye specialists at Eye Medical Clinic will perform diagnostics, including ocular allergy testing, to determine the source of your dry eye symptoms. Thorough testing leads to the best course of treatment and relief customized to your individual needs and issues.

We offer scleral lenses—a hard contact, slightly larger than a typical contact lens—that holds a supply of tears next to the cornea, reducing uncomfortable dry eye symptoms while also improving visual acuity.

Another consideration for more chronic dry eye is punctal plugs; these are tiny devices gently inserted into your eyelids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes. They bring back the moisture, restoring balance to your tear film.

Prokera/Bio-D is a high-science contact lens made with amniotic membranes with unique anti-microbial properties. One of our highly skilled specialists will gently place the amniotic membrane onto your eye and cover it with a clear, soft, disposable contact lens to hold the amniotic tissue in place. After a few days, the membrane fully dissolves and the contact is removed. The cornea absorbs the “watery” nutrients with the goal of improving your dry eye symptoms.

Most insurance plans cover the dry eye procedures we offer at Eye Medical Clinic so don’t wait to find relief. Schedule a dry eye consultation today.

Everything You Need to Know about Dry Eye

Ohhhhh, ewwwww, owwwww that feeling when there’s something in your eye. And you’re looking but can’t see it. One of life’s little irritations, but it can signal something more—like dry eye. National Eye Institute reports that more than 100 million people worldwide (30 million in the U.S.) suffer from this persistently painful disease.

San Jose, like most of the Bay area, has a Mediterranean climate with an average of 301 days of sunshine per year. Yay! But, because it lies inland surrounded on three sides by mountains and no oceanfront, San Jose is more sheltered from rain, giving it a semi-arid, or dry feel. Furthermore, allergies could be to blame and should be treated. And if it’s dry eye, we need to explore the symptoms, causes and the courses for relief.

Symptoms of dry eye may include:

  • Burning
  • Blurred vision
  • Excessive dryness
  • Fatigue
  • Grittiness
  • Itching
  • Light sensitivity
  • Redness
  • Believe It or Not, Watery Eyes

The causes of dry eye directly affect the tear production process: The quantity and/or quality of tears fails to keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. Chronic dry eye makes itself at home in San Jose, where the climate lacks moisture. Conversely, dry eye syndrome can cause watery eyes, because the excessive dryness can overstimulate the production of tears. If left untreated, chronic dry eye can lead to anything from minor irritation to the inability to wear contact lenses. It can even lead to an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.

What Else Can We Blame on Dry Eye?

  • Doing near work (emailing, texting, working, gaming) on computers and smartphones for prolonged periods of time can reduce the rate of blinking, which, in turn, reduces natural tear lubrication
  • Wearing contacts and changing them frequently
  • Environmental factors such as sitting in an air-conditioned room for too long, and weather conditions including excessive sun, wind, hot dry air or high altitude which can cause rapid evaporation of the eye’s tear film
  • Medical conditions, seasonal allergies, certain eye diseases and autoimmune disorders can be associated with the disease
  • Advancing age (50 and older) is a risk factor for reduced tear production
  • Women are more likely to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes (that impact tear production) linked to menstruation, pregnancy or menopause
  • Some medications such as antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers and diuretics can exacerbate dry eyes

Finding Relief for Dry Eye

San Jose dry eye specialists at Eye Medical Clinic will perform diagnostics, including ocular allergy testing, to determine the source of your symptoms. Thorough testing is necessary to design the best course of treatment and relief customized to your individual needs and issues. You can say goodbye to dry eye through a number of options available at Eye Medical Clinic.

We offer scleral lenses—a hard contact, slightly larger than a typical contact lens—that holds a supply of tears next to the cornea, reducing uncomfortable symptoms and improving visual acuity.

Another consideration for more chronic dry eyes are punctal plugs; these are tiny devices gently inserted into your eyelids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes. In short, they bring back the moisture.

Prokera/Bio-D is a high-science contact lens made with amniotic membranes with special anti-microbial properties. One of our highly skilled specialists will gently place the amniotic membrane onto your eye and cover it with a clear, soft, disposable contact lens to hold the amniotic tissue in place. After a few days, the membrane fully dissolves and the contact is removed. As a result, the cornea absorbs the “watery” nutrients and it’s goodbye dry eye.

The great news here, too, is that most insurance plans cover the procedures we offer at Eye Medical Clinic. Don’t wait in pain and constant irritation. Schedule a free initial dry eye consultation today.

Are You Ignoring Your Dry Eyes?

 

You Don’t Have to Live With Dry Eyes

Have you noticed that your eyes feel chronically dry, itchy, scratchy or even sometimes watery? Many people that have these symptoms just go on with their lives until the symptoms become unbearable. What they don’t realize is that these are signs that they might be suffering from dry eye syndrome, a condition in which the eyes are not able to produce enough tears to effectively lubricate the eyes. This is a problem that won’t just go away on its own.

What causes Dry Eye?

Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Tear Film Dysfunction is characterized by a reduction in the amount or quality of tears that are produced. Tears are essential for optimal eye health, vision and comfort. Ideally, tear film covers the eyes at all times to prevent the eyes from drying out and to ensure clear vision. If the glands that produce tears start to produce fewer tears or tears that don’t have the proper balance of water, oils, proteins and electrolytes, the tear film will become unstable, allowing dry spots to form on the surface of the eye, and cause disruptions in outer barrier of the eye’s epithelial surface. This disruption in the outer barrier allows microbes to invade the eye, leading to irritation and infection. The condition can be caused by many factors, including tear gland dysfunction, eyelid problems, medications or environmental factors.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

As mentioned above, many of the symptoms of dry eye involve varying sensations of dryness including, burning, stinging, itching, grittiness, soreness or a feeling that there is something in the eye. The eyes may also be red and sensitive to light, wind or smoke. Vision may be blurred or doubled and the eyes may fatigue easily. Another common symptom is that vision seems blurry but clears when you blink (especially common when reading or using a computer). This is because the tear film does not form a smooth coat over the eye surface or it evaporates too quickly causing a blur.

You may also notice pain, some discharge from the eye (especially upon waking in the morning) and experience discomfort when wearing contact lenses. One of the most confusing symptoms of dry eye is actually excessive tearing, which occurs because the eyes are trying to compensate for the lack of moisture – however the tears produced are low quality and don’t properly hydrate the surface of the eye.

Reducing Symptoms

The first thing to look at when you have dry eyes is whether you are taking any medications, engaging in certain behaviors or being exposed to environmental factors that may be causing the condition. Medications that may cause dry eye as a side effect include:

  • Antihistamines and Decongestants
  • Diuretics
  • Sleeping pills
  • Birth Control pills
  • Antidepressants
  • Acne medications
  • Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors
  • Opiate-based painkillers such as morphine

Important! Never stop medication without the approval of your doctor! If you are taking a medication that may be causing dry eye, don’t stop taking the medication without speaking to your healthcare provider first. Treating dry eye symptoms may be a simpler solution than stopping or switching medications.

You may be able to alter your environment to reduce symptoms of dry eye as well. Environmental factors that can exacerbate dry eye include:

  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Extended use of computers or other electronic devices
  • Exposure to dry, windy climates or blowing air (such as an air conditioner or heater).
  • Exposure to smoke
  • High altitudes

Treatment for Dry Eye

If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, make an appointment with your optometrist. The diagnosis and treatment will be based on a complete examination of your eyes, your medical history and your personal circumstances around the condition. The doctor may decide to perform a tear film test that can determine the quantity and quality of the tears and whether your tear glands and tear film are functioning properly.

The type of treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the problem. Treatment may include behavioral or environmental changes such as using a humidifier, wearing sunglasses in windy weather, reducing computer time or changing to a different type of contact lens, as well as medical treatments that may include:

  • Artificial tears, eye drops or ointments to lubricate eyes
  • Steroid or antibiotic drops or pills may be used for certain conditions such as blepharitis
  • Reducing the drainage of tears by blocking tear ducts with silicone plugs
  • Medications such as Restasis which reduce inflammation and trigger tear production
  • In some situations a surgical procedure might be recommended
  • Scleral lenses that hold moisture on the surface of the eyeball

The most important thing you should know about dry eyes is that you do not have to suffer. Treatments are available to increase moisture on your eye and reduce the uncomfortable and sometime debilitating symptoms. If you are suffering, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor and get the relief you deserve.

Dry Eye Syndrome Causes and Cures

 

Why Are My Eyes So Dry?

Do you experience dry, scratchy, burning eyes, redness or pain, a gritty feeling like something is in your eye? Or perhaps, excessive tearing, blurred vision, eye fatigue or discomfort wearing contact lenses? There could be a number of causes for your symptoms including allergies, reactions to an irritant or medication or an infection. You could also have a chronic condition called Dry Eye Syndrome.

It’s estimated that one out of every eight adults suffers to some extent from dry eye syndrome, which can range from mild to severe. Despite the fact that it is one of the most common eye problems, a surprisingly large percentage of patients are not aware of it.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Your eyes need a layer of tears to lubricate the surface and keep the eyes comfortable, clean and clear. These tears also wash away particles, dust and bacteria that can lead to infection and eye damage. Dry eye syndrome occurs when there is a chronic lack of lubrication on the surface of the eye either because not enough tears are being produced, the quality of the tears is weak or they evaporate too quickly. This causes the common uncomfortable symptoms including:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Redness
  • Soreness or pain
  • Dryness (and sometimes even excessive tearing because the eyes are trying to compensate)
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Grittiness or a feeling like there is something in your eye
  • Vision seems to change when blinking

Factors that Contribute to Dry Eye Syndrome

There are a number of factors that can increase your risk of suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome. While some of them are inherent, there are some environmental factors that can be changed to reduce your risk or symptoms. Risk factors include:

  • Aging: While it can occur at any age, dry eye is more common in individuals over age 50.
  • Women: Likely related to hormonal fluctuations, women are more likely to develop dry eyes than men, especially during pregnancy, menopause or when using birth control pills.
  • Digital screen use: Whether it is a computer, a smartphone or a tablet, when our eyes are focused on a digital screen we tend to blink less, increasing tear evaporation and increasing dryness, blurriness and discomfort. Remember to regularly take a break, look away from the screen and blink several times.
  • Medications: A number of medications – both prescription and nonprescription – have been found to cause dry eye symptoms including certain blood pressure regulators, antihistamines, nasal decongestants, tranquilizers and antidepressants.
  • Contact lenses: Dry eyes is a common problem in contact lens wear. Several manufacturers have started offering lenses that hold more moisture to combat this common issue.
  • Dry air: Whether it is the air conditioning or forced-air heating inside or the dry, windy climate outside, the environment of the air around you can contribute to dry eyes by causing your tears to evaporate too quickly.
  • LASIK: One side effect of LASIK and other corneal refractive surgery is dry eyes, which usually lasts about 3-6 months and eventually resolves itself.
  • Eyelid conditions: Certain conditions which prevent the eyelid from closing completely when sleeping or even blinking can cause the eye to try out.
  • Allergies or infections: Chronic inflammation of the conjunctiva which is often caused by allergies or infections such as Blepharitis can result in dry eyes.
  • Systemic diseases: People with autoimmune diseases or systemic conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are also more prone to Dry Eye.

How do you treat dry eye symptoms?

If you have dry eyes, you don’t need to suffer. There are a number of treatment options that can help, depending on the severity and cause of your condition, which can reduce symptoms and enhance your comfort.

Treatments for dry eyes can include non-prescription or prescription eye drops, omega 3 supplements, special lid therapies, punctual plugs, ointments, different contact lenses, goggles or ergonomic changes to your work station. Speak to your eye doctor to discuss the cause of your dry eye and the best remedy for you. Even when it comes to the seemingly straightforward treatments like over-the-counter eye drops, they aren’t all the same. Different ingredients are tailored towards different causes of dry eye.

Get Help for Dry Eyes Today!

If you are experiencing the symptoms above, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find out the best solution for you.

Don’t Let Fall Eye Allergies Get You Down

 

Red, itchy, watery eyes and swollen eyelids (along with sneezing, congestion or a runny nose)… these symptoms are a clear indication that allergy season has arrived. These allergic symptoms are caused by a reaction to allergens, which are substances in the environment that are usually harmless. If, however, you are one of the unlucky that is predisposed to allergies, these substances can illicit a serious and sometimes even debilitating allergic response.

As opposed to food, medicine, or insect allergies which don’t often affect the eyes, eye allergies are a common symptom of airborne allergens including mold, pollen (from trees and flowers), dust and pet dander. The summer fall and spring are often the worst times for a high pollen count and many individuals suffer during these seasons.

An allergic eye reaction occurs when your eye releases histamines in an effort to protect itself from a perceived threat (an allergen such as dust, pollen, animal dander, mold spores, eye drops or airborne chemicals). The release of the histamines causes the symptoms of redness, itchiness, burning and tearing. This response is also sometimes known as allergic conjunctivitis.

The most common type of eye allergies are perennial and seasonal allergic conjunctivitis. Perennial eye allergies are a response to household allergens that exist all year round such as pet dander, mold, or dust mites. Seasonal allergies usually result from pollen from plants, grass and trees that are found in the air and depend on the season and the types of pollens in the environment.  Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis is often more severe than perennial and can cause puffy eyelids and itching which can make symptoms worse.

The best way to reduce discomfort and prevent an allergic reaction is to stay away from allergens as much as possible. Here are some tips on how to reduce exposure:

  • Minimize outdoor exposure during pollen season:
  • Stay inside when pollen counts are particularly high or during a windy day.
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioner with a clean filter.
  • Wear sunglasses outside to keep irritants from entering the eyes.
  • Reduce indoor allergens:
  • Wash bedding frequently in hot water and use mite-proof covers on pillows, blankets and mattresses.
  • Prevent household mold by reducing humidity and keeping areas that are subject to humidity or dampness (such as bathrooms, kitchens or basements) clean. Use a dehumidifier when necessary and clean any mold you see with bleach.
  • To reduce dust, clean floors and surfaces with a damp rag or mop rather than sweeping or dry dusting.
  • Wash your hands and clothes after coming into contact with animals.
  • DO NOT rub your eyes as this can worsen symptoms, greatly aggravating swelling and itchiness, and can sometimes even cause an infection.

If you have severe allergies, avoid contact lens wear or reduce wear time when allergies flare up, as contact lenses can worsen symptoms and do not fit as they normally would when the eyes are swollen. This is why having back up glasses is so important. Changing to one-day single-use disposable contacts can also sometimes reduce allergy symptoms.

There are some steps you can take to alleviate symptoms of eye allergies. Over-the-counter solutions include artificial tears, decongestant eye drops (which shouldn’t be used for longer than a week) or oral antihistamines (which can sometimes worsen symptoms). If no eye drops are available, cool compresses (avoid heat) will also help to reduce the itch.  If these treatments don’t work, you can get a prescription for stronger eye drops (antihistamine or short term steroid drops to reduce symptoms), oral antihistamines or possibly immunotherapy (such as allergy shots).

If you are experiencing symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis, don’t just assume they are allergies. See your eye doctor to determine the cause to ensure that it is not a more serious eye condition.

8 Tips to Beat Winter Dry Eyes

One of the most common patient complaints during the winter months is dry eyes. In the cooler climates, cold winds and dry air, coupled with dry indoor heating can be a recipe for eye discomfort.  Dryness and irritation can be particularly debilitating for those who wear contact lenses or suffer from chronic dry eyes – a condition in which the eyes produce a low quality tear film.
Harsh weather conditions can reduce the natural moisture in your eyes and the irritation usually results in a burning or itching sensation that often leads to rubbing or scratching your eyes which can worsen the symptoms. Sometimes it feels like there is a foreign object in your eye and for some, dry eyes can even cause excessive tearing, as your eyes try to overcompensate for their lack of protective tears. Prolonged, untreated dry eyes can lead to blurred vision as well.
Whatever the symptoms, dry eyes can cause significant discomfort during the long winters and relief can seriously improve your quality of life.
Here are eight tips to keep your eyes comfortable during the harsh winter months:
  1. To keep eyes moist, apply artificial tears/eye drops a few times a day. If you have chronic dry eyes, speak to your eye doctor about the best product for your condition.
  2. Drink a lot of fluids – keeping your body hydrated will also help maintain the moisture in your eyes.
  3. If you spend a lot of time indoors in heated environments, use a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.
  4. Try to situate yourself away from sources of heat, especially if they are blowing. While a nice cozy fire can add to the perfect winter evening, make sure to keep your distance so dry eyes don’t ruin it.
  5. Staring at a computer or digital device for extended amounts of time can further dry out your eyes. If you spend a lot of time staring at the screen, make sure you blink often and practice the 20/20/20 rule – every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  6. Don’t rub your eyes! This will only increase irritation and can also lead to infections if your hands are not clean.
  7. Give your eyes a break and break out your glasses. If your contact lenses are causing further irritation, take a break and wear your glasses for a few days. Also talk to your optometrist about switching to contacts that are better for dry eyes.
  8. Protect your eyes. If you know you are going to be venturing into harsh weather conditions, such as extreme cold or wind, make sure you wear protection. Try large, 100% UV protective eyeglasses and a hat with a visor to keep the wind and particles from getting near your eyes. If you are a winter sports enthusiast, make sure you wear well-fitted ski goggles.
If you find that after following these tips you continue to suffer, contact your eye doctor. It could be that your condition requires medical intervention.

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