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Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)

Burning, stinging, redness, scratchiness and eye pain are some of the symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). DES is an important health problem that can have significant effects on quality-of-life.

Millions of Americans suffer from DES. About 6% of women under 50 and 10% over 75 are affected. Younger women and men are also affected. A recent survey found that DES sufferers are 3 times more likely to have trouble driving, reading and using a computer.

One of the most common symptoms is excessive tearing. You might ask: How can the eye be ‘dry’ despite producing tears? Reflex tearing (tearing when something flies in the eye), for example, is the body's unsuccessful attempt to correct the underlying dryness.

There may be many causes of DES, but most cases are due to aging, eyelid infections (blepharitis) and autoimmune disorders (Sjogren’s Syndrome). Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition of the eyelids that causes chronic redness and prevents the eyelids from producing important components of the tear film, aggravating DES symptoms.

The mainstay treatment is Restasis which is safe, and allergic reactions are rare. Omega 3 supplements also help alleviate symptoms when used with Restasis. Treatment of other associated conditions, including blepharitis, is also necessary. Artificial tears are used for minor symptoms.

January 5, 2017

Regular Checkups Can Save Your Vision!

A recent Harris poll commissioned by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) found that although 64 percent of respondents reported having one or more vision problems, only 13 percent had an eye exam.

The poll respondents reported blurry or double vision, difficulty seeing at night, problems reading, seeing flashes of light and red, watery eyes – all possible indications of diseases that could lead to vision loss or blindness.

We are all prone to develop eye problems as we age. Symptoms often appear gradually, and at first may not seem serious enough to see a doctor. Regular eye checkups, especially after age 40, are important in order to detect problems in their earliest stages when treatment is most successful.

Common age-related eye diseases such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy can be detected with an eye exam. The AAO recommends routine eye exams every 1-2 years after age 50 even if no problems exist.

Your ophthalmologist will use dilating eyedrops to widen your pupils in order to see the inside of your eyes. These usually take 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, so expect to be in the office for at least one hour.

Dilated eyes are more sensitive to sunlight and won’t be able to focus as well for several hours. Be sure to bring your sunglasses. Many people prefer to have a friend or family member drive them home. If you have questions about the procedure, be sure to ask your ophthalmologist.

December 5, 2016

Myopia Prevention

Nearsightedness, also known as myopia, affects about 42 percent of Americans. Myopia is caused by improperly functioning eye muscles, making far objects appear blurred. Severe cases of myopia increase the risk of retinal detachment, premature cataracts and glaucoma, which can cause permanent vision loss and even blindness.

Many studies suggest that focusing on close work could have a greater effect on myopia than previously thought.

In one study, researchers found that more than half of college graduates had myopia, but among people who never enrolled in college, only a third were nearsighted, and only a quarter of those who never entered high school were myopic.

School-age children are especially at risk for worsening a mild case of myopia by spending hours working on a computer or using hand-held devices. Fortunately, there is a simple way to counteract this: by getting outside and letting the eyes focus on far objects each day.

In another study, nearly 40 percent of 6-year-olds who spent less time outside developed myopia, compared to 30 percent of those who spent 40 extra minutes outdoors each day – and those who did have myopia had milder cases than the ones who stayed indoors more.

As soon as parents notice that children have trouble reading at a distance, they should have their eyes examined by an ophthalmologist. If detected early, myopia can be lessened or reversed with reading glasses for close-up work, to encourage the eye’s focusing muscles to work properly. If left uncorrected, the eye muscles will lock in place, requiring corrective lenses for distance vision.

Spending time outdoors focusing on far objects and being exposed to beneficial UV light plays a significant role in the healthy development of children’s eyes. Make sure your children balance time spent using electronic devices with outdoor play or work.

November 2016