Eye irritation, foreign body sensation, tearing, bloodshot or tired eyes are among leading causes for patient visits to our office. They all can be symptoms of dry eyes. In today’s day and age with a lot of us working long hours, commuting, using computers, electronic readers or smart phones through out our day our eyes get over used. A variety of eye or systemic diseases (i.e. rosacea or blepharitis) or predispositions can also contribute to our eye difficulties including hormonal imbalances, age, gender, autoimmune conditions, medications, vitamin deficiencies, eyelid dysfunction or prior eye surgeries. For years our tools for diagnostic or treatment options was very limited. Recent technological advances are finally opening the doors to better diagnosis, follow up and treatment options.
There are two general types of dry eye syndrome. A diminished volume of tears causes one type, while a poor quality of tears resulting in their excessive evaporation causes the other. Both are associated with inflammation. The diminished volume is often a result of a lacrimal gland malfunction due to genetic predisposition or autoimmune disease (Sjogren’s Syndrome) or systemic medications. We used to screen for Sjogren’s Syndrome by sending our patients for lab work but now we are able to screen in the office with a finger-stick Sjo test (Immco Diagnostics) that is as specific.
Another way of assessing dry eyes and tear quality is a Tear Osmolarity Test (Tear Lab Co.). It is a non-invasive test, which can tell us if tears have a correct chemical balance. Increased tear osmolarity is a sign of inflammation and should be treated to improve and preserve the health of the eye surface as well as stabilize vision. Tear Osmolarity Testing is frequently used to follow patients’ response to dry eye therapy.
The available options for treating dry eye are also expanding. Nowadays we cannot only offer better topical tear substitutes (artificial tears) or lacrimal gland stimulants such as Restasis, but also mechanically increase tear levels through the use of punctal plugs, as well as perform laser-like treatments using Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy. IPL helps patients who suffer from dry eye syndrome caused by rosacea, acne or blepharitis and enables them to eliminate or reduce their usage of chronic medications, which are often expensive, ineffective or have systemic side effects. We also offer medical grade nutriceuticals, which are highly bio-absorbable and purified to eliminate heavy metal contaminants. These nutriceuticals significantly improve the quality of the lipid layer of the re-esterified Omega-3 tear film.