Dr. Melanie Datta-Bose answers frequently asked questions about the common eye issue of Dry Eyes.
Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Yes, in the winter months with lower humidity caused by our heating systems dry eye symptoms are exacerbated. 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?
People with significantly dry eyes who feel pain or foreign body sensation that begins to affect their daily activities should make an appointment with their optometrist.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
Your eye doctor will take an extensive history to determine possible causes of the dry eye problem and your eyes will be evaluated under the slit lamp with sodium flurescein staining to determine the quality and quantity of the tear film along with looking for signs of inflammation.
Q: I have a friend in whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn't Dry Eye, is it?
Watery eyes can mean that the quality of the baseline tear film is poor and the irritation to the eye surface is causing reflux tearing from your lacrimal gland. Watery eyes could also mean a possible blockage of your lacrimal duct (drainage system) which is NOT dry eyes, and watery eyes could also mean allergies.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes are typically treated by first avoiding the cause if possible, lubricating eyes with artificial tears that are preserved or nonpreserved depending on the frequency that the drops are needed. Sometimes punctal plugs are put in and also mild steroids are used to control inflammation in the eyes.
Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Some people have systemic diseases such as rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus that are prone to dry eyes, also certain medications such as blood pressure medication (Beta Blockers) antidepressants, heart antiarrhythmic and Parkinson medications cause dry eyes.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues
Avoid air blowing in car heaters and air conditioners; add moisture to the air ie humidifiers in the winter; wear wraparound sunglasses and other protective eyewear; take eye breaks when doing long tasks and close your eyes for a few minutes; position your computer below eye level so you don’t open your eyes as wide; stop smoking or being in smoke; use artificial tears