Diagnosing and Treating Dry Eye Disease
A quiet revolution is occurring in the field of eye care, namely the diagnosis and treatment of Dry Eye Disease (DED). Spurred by new research, specific treatments and changes in our patients’ lifestyles, this once largely-ignored disorder is of great interest to ophthalmologists and patients alike.
DED is a very common condition affecting millions of Americans. Estimates vary widely but between 8-30% of adults are affected. Symptoms include:
- stinging, burning and redness
- scratchy feeling as if there is something in the eyes
- excessive tearing
- discomfort and pain
- difficulty reading or using an electronic device for prolonged periods
Recently recognized is the effect of DED on reading and computer work. Sometimes called ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’, the lack of tears and ‘good tears’ causes eyestrain and loss of productivity.
Also, we are seeing more and more individuals with long-standing vague pain in and about the eyes. Patients were frustrated going from doctor to doctor looking for relief. Now we recognize that many of these people have previously undiagnosed DED.
The good news is that treatment can be highly successful. The mainstay of treatment is specific medications in eye drop form, including Restasis and the newcomer, Xiidra. Also, of great interest is the use of Omega-3 supplements. These must be of a very specific type in the re-esterified triglyceride form, NOT available in drugstores. Artificial tears are used for minor symptoms.
Ophthalmologists recognize that a variety of eyelid problems often play a very important role in DED. Treatment directed at these problems, e.g. blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is critical to the success of treatment.
The doctors at the Coastal Jersey Eye Center highly recommend visiting your eye care provider if you’re experiencing these problems.
February 1, 2018