Dry Eye… The Why, Who, What and How

Dry eye and other potential post-Lasik problems made headlines in the last couple of weeks in a very sad way. These recent examples of patients pushed to the edge underscore very dramatically the impact that vision problems and eye discomfort can have.

Tip: Solutions can range from altering activities such as cutting back on screen time to OTC + prescription eye drops, proper spectacle lens designs, materials, and treatments in association with glare reduction, and a variety of medical procedures.

20Focus 20 feet away for 20 seconds after each 20 minutes of screen time

They also stress the importance of routinely asking about things like dry eye and digital eyestrain with all patients. And, most critical, of offering options and conducting follow-up to make sure patients realize there is often more than one way to manage their symptoms.

To help, we share here some consumer-directed tips provided by a variety of resources — including Justin Bazan, OD, National Eye Institute, the Mayo Clinic, and FGX. We hope they will provide fodder for future social media posts as well as in-office information sheets and communications.

1. WHY. Contributing factors include medications + lifestyle and environmental factors. For example, dry or windy conditions can increase the evaporation of tears. Prolonged digital usage results in decreased blinking and even temporary blurred vision. And procedures like laser eye surgery can, usually temporarily, cause issues.

2. WHO. Women, especially those undergoing hormonal changes. Older patients in general. Anyone affected by allergies or taking antihistamines. Anyone living in cold, dry or windy locales — especially contact lens wearers in those environments. And patients suffering from a wide range of health issues, including high blood pressure, auto-immune disorders, to mention just two.

3. WHAT. Potential solutions range from altering activities such as cutting back on screen time to OTC + prescription eye drops, proper spectacle lens designs, materials, and treatments in association with glare reduction, plus a variety of medical procedures. Diet and nutrition may also make a difference.

4. HOW. Most important of all is for patients to understand how they’re being affected and what simple steps they can take if digital devices are a contributing cause.

• 20/20/20 Rule…Look away from devices for 20 seconds and focus on something at least 20 feet away after every 20 minutes of screen time

• Light away…Eliminate overhead light and any other lighting that causes glare.

• Text…Increase the font size on your devices. It’s more relaxing to the eye.

• Placement…Place your monitor at arm’s length with the top of the screen positioned just below eye level

4. And, finally, PRESCRIBE. There is an ever-expanding variety of good options…from prescription drops and lens treatments to lens materials and designs that can help patients be more comfortable.

What do you suggest to dry eye patients in your practice who are experiencing dry eye symptoms? Tell us about it and share in the conversation on Facebook here.

Image credit: fizkes/adobestock.com

Erinn Morgan