Dry eye or “dry eye syndrome” or “dry eye disease” is a condition where there is a lack of lubrication/moisture on the eyes. People all over the world and of all age groups are prone to experiencing dry eye, and it is one of the most common reasons for visiting an optometrist. This blog will help to answer what causes dry eye, what are the symptoms of dry eye, and some common dry eye treatments and preventative measures.
While it can be uncomfortable and irritating, it is not life threatening. However, that’s not to say that it won’t cause any damage at all. Untreated dry eye is prone to bacterial infections and can eventually lead to inflammation or corneal scarring and vision loss.
Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and it can affect people in different ways. These symptoms can include:
If you are experiencing—for a prolonged period of time—one or more of these you could be affected by dry eye syndrome and should see an optometrist.
Dry eye syndrome can be caused by many different factors, but it all revolves around your tears. While it is easily pushed to the wayside, tears are vital to your overall eye health.
Tears are composed of three layers—a lipid oily layer, an aqueous watery layer and a mucin mucus like layer. An imbalance in tear composition leads to inflammation, which can damage the tear producing glands worsening the condition over time.
Additionally, there should always be a tear layer around your eye to keep it moist, and to act as a protective layer against dust and microorganisms. Dry eye symptoms will set in when your eye stops producing quality tears or production of the components in the correct ratios. This can be caused from aging, hormone changes like menopause, thyroid disorders, vitamin A deficiency, lasik eye surgery and certain medications.
Dry eye syndrome can also be caused from tear evaporation from wind, smoke, dry air, or blinking less often while reading, driving, or working on a computer.
Recent studies have indicated that there is a link between dry eyes and screen time. According to a Nielsen Company audience report the average American spends close to 11 hours a day in front of a screen. With the world going digital and more people working from home now than ever, this is one of the leading causes of dry eyes.
Prolonged sittings in front of a screen can dry out your eyes, and throw off the water, oil and mucus composition as well.
When you blink your eyes release a tear film that coats your eyes and keeps them moist. While working on a computer, scrolling social media on your phone or just watching TV you don’t blink as much causing your eyes to dry out quicker.
Similarly, a Japanese study from 2014 indicated that working long hours in front of a computer screen can throw off your tear balance causing a decreased amount of mucus that is necessary for a healthy eye.
Children are also susceptible to dry eyes from screen time. With a global pandemic, increased time inside and increased implementation of numerous screens, parents should be carefully monitoring their children’s screen use and the health implications.
One of the most important things to prevent dry eyes is to be aware of what you’re doing and your surroundings.
Avoid direct airflow:
If you experience dry eyes in the morning it could be from your fan if it is blowing directly at you overnight. If it is an overhead fan try decreasing the speed, or if it is another type of fan try to not point it directly at your bed. Also, pay attention to air conditioning, heaters and hair dryers.
Humidify the air:
If you live in a dry environment an indoor humidifier can greatly increase the moisture in your home.
If you work outside sunglasses will not only protect you from dryness from the sun, but also from wind, dry air and any dust or microscopic particles.
Take a break from the screen:
While working from a computer screen be sure to take breaks. Close your eyes for a few minutes, blink repeatedly to help spread your tears back out, or for every 20 minutes behind the screen take 20 seconds to look away at something in the distance. You can also try to lower your screen to below eye level so you aren’t forced to open your eyes as much.
Smoking poses numerous health risks throughout your body that contribute to dry eyes, and the smoke can worsen your dry eye symptoms. Consult with your doctor for a strategy to quit smoking.
These are one of the most common treatments for dry eyes. They are eye drops that increase eye moisture, supplementing inadequate production of tear components. Artificial tears range widely in their components and are much more than just rewetting drops today.
Thankfully, if you suffer from chronic dry eye syndrome there are a multitude of different medications. An anti-inflammatory called cyclosporine (Restasis, Cequa and Klarity-C) is commonly used to increase your amount of tears and protect your cornea from further damage. Lifitegrast (Xiidra) is another drug that is widely prescribed early in the dry eye treatment process. Commonly doctors prescribe corticosteroid eye drops for rapid improvement in symptoms and use the prior medications for long term treatment. Consult with your doctor before taking any medication.
Lacrimal or Punctal Plugs:
This is a simple procedure that blocks the drainage holes in the corners of your eyes. It is a reversible and non-permanent solution that can help slow tear loss.
In office procedures:
The bacteria that live along the eyelids can produce toxins that cause inflammation and damage to the lid and tear glands. Your optometrist can exfoliate the lids in the office and express stagnant tear components, opening up tear flow and reducing the bacterial buildup along the lids. This is similar to how your dentist cleans your teeth to reduce cavities.
As a last resort some doctors may suggest surgery if the other treatments are ineffective. The tear drainage ducts can be cauterized to slow tear drainage similar to lacrimal plugs where it is aimed to stop the drainage of your tears. This surgery is permanent and only used in the most severe cases. Your surgeon may also recommend sewing the eyelids together to partially close the eyes. A third option would be tighten up the conjunctiva so tears can spread more evenly over the eye.
Our Reno family eye care center offers exceptional personalized visual solutions. We have been proudly serving the Northern Nevada area since 2004, and we are continuously improving our practice, service, and knowledge. We offer customized dry eye solutions featuring the Crystal Tear Report from our Oculus Keratograph 5M. Contact us today to get started on your path to healthy eyes!
In this age of rapid technological advancement, the issue of health is usually brought into the equation with it. These days almost every child, teen, and adult has a number of phones, tablets, and laptops to choose from on any given day. The exponential increase in screen time has led to concerns about light emission from these screens and the health implications they have on the user, specifically blue light.
One of the most popular ways of combating this issue is glasses that block blue light from the user’s eyes. However, recent evidence suggests that blue light may not be the culprit to eye issues and digital eye strain (DES), and the truth about blue light glasses is slowly being revealed.
While it may not be extremely crucial that you understand everything about blue light, it is helpful to have a little background information on the subject. Blue light is found naturally through sunlight, and it is also present in general lighting and electronic displays. Sunlight emits 100,000 lux while general lighting only emits approximately 50-70 lux, so a long day in the sun with no protection can be much more harmful than a couple hours on your phone. On the light spectrum, blue light is almost indistinguishable to the invisible ultraviolet rays which is one of the reasons why there are mixed findings about the effects of blue light.
Blue light can be helpful or harmful depending on the where, what and how of the situation. For example—because blue light suppresses melatonin in your body—prolonged use of your phone, especially before bed, can cause difficulty sleeping and disrupt your circadian rhythm. But, if you were to take a walk during your break from your job, the sunlight can make you come back feeling alert and awake.
Blue light glasses have specially crafted lenses that block or filter out blue light. They are available both with and without a prescription. The manufacturers claim they protect from glare and can help reduce damage to your eyes from prolonged exposure to blue light.
According to this study, 40-60% of people experience eye symptoms from prolonged use of electronic displays. These symptoms have been coined as digital eye strain (DES) including eye fatigue, ocular irritation, burning, eye strain, redness, dryness, blurred and double vision.
It had long been speculated that blue light was the main cause of DES, and to combat the issues there was a huge marketing push for blue light glasses. They were received well by the public because technology is now so ingrained in our society. Advertised benefits of the glasses include less eye strain, improved sleeping and prevention of eye disease. But is this the full truth about blue light glasses?
According to this same study, there is minimal evidence to support the theory of blue light causing DES symptoms and blue light lenses as a clinical treatment for DES. However, they have been proven to reduce symptoms for certain people, so keep using them if they make you feel better.
"Two studies from our laboratory do not support the proposal that DES symptoms are associated with exposure to visible blue light. In the first investigation, we compared symptoms after sustained reading from a tablet computer.26 The screen was covered either with a filter that blocked more than 99% of blue light or an equiluminant, neutral-density filter (Figure 1). We observed no significant difference in post-task symptoms between the two conditions (Figure 2). The study does have some limitations, as it was not performed on a double-blind basis, and most commercially available filters only block between 10% and 20% of blue light, rather than the 99% level tested here.27 " (excerpt from https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/living-with-blue-light-exposure)
Moreover, these findings have shown that there are a plethora of factors that contribute to DES. It is important to manage other elements that can have a more collectively positive effect such as optimal environment for screen viewing, proximity to the screen, amount of time and when.
Here at Visionary Eye Center, we understand the importance of information. An educated patient can make the best decisions for themselves or families, and we are here to help every step of the way. Our site is filled with information. Also, be sure to check out our Facebook and Instagram for our latest tips. We look forward to meeting you! Contact us today.
Myopia is the condition that is commonly referred to as nearsightedness, and recent studies have revealed that it is becoming increasingly common in children. Myopia is caused by the lengthening of the eye from front to back, and consequently, light is focused in front of the retina and not directly on it—causing far-away objects to be blurry. Myopia progresses quickly in children if not treated, but there are now multiple myopia control options that can slow down or the progression.
So you may be asking yourself what exactly is myopia control? Myopia control is the use of treatments, medicines, eyeglasses, and contacts to reduce the progression and risk of eye disease from myopia.
The most crucial aspect of myopia control is being proactive. This means communicating early and often with your eye doctor. Later complications from myopia can include serious, even life-threatening, complications such as glaucoma, cataracts, retinal detachment leading to blindness.
In regards to children—because they are still growing—even if they aren’t experiencing eyesight problems, it’s important to take them in regularly to get their eyes checked. There is a much greater chance of success with the myopia control options if you are proactive and aware.
Experts say that adults and children should be getting at least 2 hours of sunlight per day to reduce the chance of myopia onset. Studies are inconclusive at this time whether this prevention technique helps slow progression in children that already are myopic.
The best thing to do to start is getting with your optometrist to create a personalized treatment plan. The most common myopia control options are atropine eye drops, multifocal contacts, orthokeratology (Ortho-k), and special types of glasses.
Atropine eye drops: As more and more people are being diagnosed with myopia, atropine eye drops have come out as one of the most effective myopia control options. Multiple studies have shown the higher the dose of atropine the better the control. Atropine in higher doses dilates the pupil, but studies have also shown very low dosages (.01-0.05%) can effectively slow myopic progression without bothersome side effects.
The use of a low dosage drop—used usually before bed—has shown to substantially slow the effects of myopia in children compared to those who don’t.
Multifocal contacts: Multifocal contact lenses have also been proven to be an effective myopia control option. The FDA even recently approved the MiSight 1 day for myopia control, the first soft contact lens to carry such designation. This option can be used as a sole treatment or in combination with low dose atropine.
Bifocal Glasses: Lined bifocals have been shown to slow myopia correction by a small but meaningful amount. If your child is hesitant about eye drop and contact lens options this is a great alternative to get them started on myopia control therapy.
Orthokeratology (Ortho-k): Ortho-k has been at the forefront of myopia control options for many years. They are a set of gas permeable contacts worn at night that gradually reshape your eye, eliminating the need for daytime glasses or contacts as well as slowing the progression of myopia.
This control option is becoming increasingly popular because it is a non-surgical alternative to LASIK.
The prevalence of myopia has increased dramatically in the United States over the last 50 years, with almost 40% of the US population being nearsighted today, compared to just 25% in the 1970s. While genetics play a key role in many patients, environmental aspects like increased time indoors and increased levels of near work have also been implicated in this dramatic rise. As myopia can occur even in children with no family history, it is imperative to talk with your child and see your optometrist often.
Myopia studies are increasing, but doctors are unable to offer a foolproof explanation of who will or will not develop myopia or significant myopic progression.
Factors include increased screen time, decreased time outdoors, and long periods of near work like reading. Studies have also shown that the under-correction of myopia in eyeglasses or contacts may contribute to myopia progression.
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into our everyday lives, it is also posing health risks. While the evidence is not clear cut, many doctors agree that there is a correlation between screen time and the increased prevalence of myopia.
A study from the Singapore Eye Research Institute concludes that since the introduction of smartphones and tablets there has been a rise in myopia, but the results are “mixed.”
At our strongly independent office, we strive to provide all of our patients with custom eye care and the knowledge to make the best decisions for their care. To get started with your personalized eye care feel free to contact us to set up an appointment!