Interview with Dr. Boudreaux of Maison Optique Vision Center in Lafayette, LA
1. What are the common symptoms of Dry Eye, and when would you recommend that a patient come into the practice for these symptoms for an exam?
Symptoms can range from dyness, blurry vision and burning to a scratchy or foreign body sensation. Watery eyes can also occur due to an increased tear reflex that is produced when the eyes are excessively dry. Experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, even if not daily, can leave a patient uncomfortable. If bothered by the symptoms see an eye care provider because even mild dry eyes can be treated.
2. Why should a patient come in the office as opposed to treating themselves by purchasing over the counter artificial tear drops?
Dry Eye is caused by lack of lubrication and moisture to the surface of the eye. This leads to ocular inflammation which causes irritation of the eyes. Over the counter artificial tears can provide temporary relief. This can be beneficial for mild symptoms, however, dry eye most often needs more aggressive treatment to decrease the inflammation. Your doctor can assess the extent of dryness and offer the best plan of care. If necessary, they can help decide which over the counter artificial tears are best because not all tears are the same.
3. What types of tests or examination is conducted in the office when checking for Dry Eye?
Tests are performed to pay special attention to the surface of the eye. A drop of yellow or green dye may be placed in the eye to look for damaged areas from inflammation. Tests to measure adequate tear production can also be performed.
4. What treatments are available and most commonly used to manage Dry Eye?
There are many treatment options available starting with over the counter artificial tears. Prescription drops may also be used such as a mild steroid to reduce inflammation or Restasis which can help your body produce more of its own tears. Punctal plugs can be inserted into the drainage canals of the eyelids which allow you to keep more of your own tears in your eyes. Everyone is unique and your doctor will decide on the best treatment and management plan.
5. Are there certain people, whether it be because of profession or gender, that are more prone to have Dry Eye issues?
People warking all day in air conditioning or a dry heating system can be more prone to dry eye. Long-term computer work can also cause dryness due to lack of blinking. Other contributing factors are smoking and previous LASIK or eyelid surgery. Women are also more prone to dry eye due to hormone changes and menopause. Dryness is a side effect of many medications including antihistamines, decongestants, some antidepressants, isotretinoin drugs for acne and hormone replacement therapy.
6. What recommendations can you give people in order to enhance their surrounding environment and avoid Dry Eye issues?
It is recommended to take breaks often when working on a computer or reading. Using a humidifier indoors adds moisture to the air which can provide relief. Finally, sunglasses outdoors will protect from sun, wind and dust.
7. Any further comments about Dry Eye that patients should be aware of?
Some patients feel they cannot wear contact lenses due to dryness. Most of the time if the dryness is managed appropriately and the inflammation is under control, patients can continue to wear contact lenses comfortably.