We spoke with Dr. Jaime Gonzalez of Eye Pieces Dallas, a dry eye expert serving the greater Dallas area, to find out what can be done about this eye health problem.
Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
Yes, dry eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter due to decreased humidity in the environment. The decreased humidity allows for a higher concentration of pollutants in the air, making the dry eye symptoms worse.
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?
If someone is experiencing symptoms a few days a week or if someone is applying lubricants a few times a week, that is definitely a sign for the patient to be examined by their optometrist and prescribe proper treatment for dry eyes.
What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
At our office, the examination for dry eye syndrome involves a very detailed assessment of several eye structures (eyelids, lashes, cornea, conjunctiva, meibomian glands, and tears). We use a fluorescein dye or lissamine green dye to diagnose what kind of dry eye syndrome, how severe the condition is, and the quality/quantity of your tears.
I have a friend in whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn't Dry Eye, is it?
One of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome is actually watery eyes. There is an overstimulation of tears (reaction tears) when someone has dry eye syndrome. Those “reaction tears” are poor quality tears that only make dry eye syndrome worse.
What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
Mild cases of dry eyes are managed with eye drop medications. All artificial tear lubricants are not the same. A proper artificial tear lubricant should be determined by your optometrist depending on what type of dry eye syndrome you have. You should not use Visine, Opcon A, or a redness remover eye drop since these drops worsen dry eye syndrome. Prescription eye drop medications prescribed by your optometrist are also used to help control the swelling and help promote healthy tear production. Prescribing a high quality omega-3 supplement can help reduce excessive evaporation of your tears. Taking a poor quality omega-3 will have no effect on improving your dry eye symptoms. Call and ask us which omega-3 and what strength is effective to improve dry eye symptoms. Punctal plugs are also a great way to help retain your tears on your eyes and not allow them to waste away. Punctal occulusion is a simple 5 minute procedure that can help relieve dry eye discomfort. There are other treatments for dry eye syndrome not mentioned here as well. If you have any questions about any of these treatments, please give us a call so we can give you a more detailed explanation.
Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?
Yes, some people are more prone to having dry eyes than others. People that consume a large amount of caffeine or alcohol tend to lose water because caffeine and alcohol can act as a diuretic and worsen dry eye symptoms. Also, improper contact lens wear, using redness remover eye drops, allergy sufferers, long hours on the computer, hormonal changes, autoimmune diseases, some oral medications, and poor diet can worsen dry eye symptoms.
Do you have any recommendations for people to help them avoid Dry Eye issues?
To help reduce symptoms of dry eyes people can do the following:
1. blink regularly when staring at the computer or reading for long periods of time
2. use a humidifier at work and home
3. use polarized sunglasses to help reduce exposure to UV radiation and wind
4. drink eight glasses of water per day,
5. select a high quality omega-3 supplement.
Seek help from your optometrist before your symptoms get worse and before the condition is more difficult to treat. Do not suffer from dry eyes. There are great treatments we can prescribe that can help right away.