Q & A On Dry Eyes From Dr. Andrew Steinhauer
Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Absolutely. Between the dry weather and use of heat in the home, at work, and in your car; patients tend to notice the symptoms of Dry Eye more in the winter.
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?
Patients should always discuss their Dry Eye symptoms with their optometrist to find out how to properly treat their specific type of Dry Eye and any new treatments available.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
Discussing any symptoms of Dry Eye is the first step. During the examination a microscope will be used to assess the eye lids, tear film, and surface of the eyes to grade the severity of the potential future damage to the ocular surface due to Dry Eye.
Q: I have a friend whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?
While it seems backwards, watering can be a sign of Dry Eye because tears are evaporating too quickly from the surface of your eyes and tearing is a reflex reaction to the dry surface. However, watery eyes can be due to any number of other conditions such as blocked tear ducts, viral conjunctivitis, or allergies. Having an examination by your optometrist is the best way to determine the cause of your friend’s watery eyes.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
First line of treatment usually consists of lubricating artificial tears and warm compresses, depending on your type of dry eye. Second line treatment involves plugging the tear drainage system to keep the tears on the eyes longer. If neither of these treatments are sufficiently controling more severe dry eye, there are prescription eye drops that increase tear production and reduce inflammation caused by Dry Eye.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Yes, people who have underlying medical conditions that are inflammatory in nature, work on a computer or in dusty environments, or who are taking certain medications can be more prone to developing Dry Eye.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues?
Discuss any Dry Eye symptoms with your optometrist so that you can catch and treat the condition early. Make sure you take short breaks every 20 minutes during activities such as computer work, reading, and watching TV, to blink. This increases tear production and spreads tears across the eyes. It is also important to wear appropriate safety glasses when working in dusty environments, and to wear sunglasses when you are outside to protect your eyes from surface damage due to harmful UV rays.