Dry Eyes Demystified
Having practiced in Santa Fe for over thirty years, the doctors at Accent Vision Specialists have made dry eye diagnosis and treatment a major focus of their practice. The changing climate, aging of the population and ever more common digital device use have drastically increased the incidence of this ocular surface disease. It is now being seen in younger age groups. Dry eye is the most commonly reported reason for seeking medical eye care, and up to 20% of patients going to eye doctors experience dry eye. Dry eye disease reduces work productivity and quality of life due to pain and fluctuating vision.
That’s right, it is a disease and not simply a short-term condition or set of symptoms. Progressive in nature, dry eye only gets worse with age, but many people just put up with the increasing symptoms of blur, burning and scratchy eyes as a part of getting older. Much of that complacency is the result of a lack of effective treatment options in the past.
It does not have to be that way anymore. New technology has now enabled doctors dedicated to addressing the disorder to both diagnose and treat the different causes of dry eye in a targeted and effective way.
The symptoms of dry eye are so varied, many patients don’t even know the underlying reason for their red, watery and uncomfortable eyes, much less the cause of their intermittent blur when reading, watching TV or driving.
Unlike previous treatments like just using artificial tears or medications to increase tear production, current strategies are more focused and based on the underlying cause. Many suffer from Evaporative Dry Eye, or a relative lack of oils produced from glands in the eyelid. Over time, these glands can get clogged and eventually die, leaving the tears vulnerable to drying out much more quickly than if they had a robust, protective oily layer. Treatments that improve the health of the oil glands not only can make the patient more comfortable immediately, but save the glands at risk for permanent loss.
Accent Vision Specialists offers a novel but well documented way to save the glands while increasing their oil production using Intense Pulsed Light. Used by Dermatologists for decades in facial rejuvenation, it has recently been repurposed for the treatment of dry eye. Not only will IPL improve oil gland function, but as a positive side effect it also reduces fine wrinkles and lessens dark spots and redness on the upper face and around the eyes. Accent Vision Specialists are one of the few eyecare providers who currently utilize this technology in New Mexico. See more information about IPL in our dry eye center website section.
Other individuals have a lack of overall tear production due to the use of certain medications, diabetes or autoimmune diseases such as Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid dysfunction. Reduced tear volume can be due to previous eye surgeries such as LASIK. Many have both the oil and tear production problems together. Due to changes in hormone levels, women over 50 are most at risk.
A less common, often overlooked but significant cause of dry eye symptoms is ocular neuropathic pain, or keratoneuralgia. See more on this condition on our Ocular Neuropathic Pain page.