Today’s Vision wants you to know that problems with dry eyes is one of the most common reasons to visit an eye doctor. And we have good news! In recent years, researchers and doctors have made significant progress in management of what we call “Dry Eye Disease.”
About 25 percent of patients visiting their optometrist report problems related to dry eyes, according to Meng C. Lin, OD, PhD, of University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Lin notes that accurately diagnosing dry eye symptoms is challenging because they can mimic symptoms of other diseases of the eye surface.
Here are updates to what we have learned about dry eyes in the past 10 years.
Risk Factors. You have an increased risk of developing dry eyes if you:
• Are of Asian ethnicity
• Wear contact lenses
• Use glaucoma medications
• Have had LASIK surgery
• Are being treated for acne
• Blink incompletely (an under-recognized cause)
Diagnosis. When you are being evaluated for dry eyes, the doctor will assess your meibomian glands, which is the main source of tear lipids–leading to faster evaporation of tears. A stable tear film is essential for maintaining eye comfort.
Treatment and Management. Because most of us spend prolonged hours viewing computer screens or mobile devices, even healthy eyes can experience temporary discomfort. You may want to search for software or phone apps that remind you to take “visual breaks,” or to blink more often. Other current and emerging treatments include omega-3 supplements and various forms of heat therapy, including a new “thermal pulsation system.”
Clinical Perspectives. Researchers and doctors are learning more all the time. While treatments today focus on making the eye feel more comfortable, there is research in the pipeline that will lead us closer to truly “curing” dry eye and eliminating its effects on so many eyes.