Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?
A: Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn’t always black and white. Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) is a chronic multi-factorial disease process in which signs and symptoms don’t always correlate with one another. Some patient may be more sensitive in certain seasons than others, depending on the humidity level, wind factor, working environment, and other variables. Therefore, screening for this common and chronic condition is crucial to maintaining a healthy and stable tear film, no matter the season, and should not be based on symptoms alone.
Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?
A: Patients should undergo a dry eye evaluation by a therapeutic optometrist at the first signs of dry eyes. Those who wear, or over wear, contact lenses are at higher risk for dry eye syndrome, as are patients who suffer from multiple systemic conditions. Patients who are taking multiple medications may also complain of dry eye due to drug interactions. Mild acute symptoms may be treated with over the counter drops, but most patients select an incorrect product that isn’t specific to their condition, and can often mask serious conditions or lead to toxic corneal reactions. A consult is also warranted for any patient who has been recently diagnosed with an autoimmune condition or undergoing high-risk medications.
Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: A full dry eye evaluation may include a series of tests depending on initial signs and symptoms, systemic history, medication, and lifestyle. Most of these tests are non-invasive and are painless. They can range from special colored dyes placed on the eyelid to assess severity, direct visualization of the oil glands to check for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or atrophy, to tear production analysis to name a few. The evaluation will be tailored to narrow down the specific cause of Dry Eye Syndrome.
Q: What are the common symptoms of OCULAR allergies:
A: Excessive tearing, frequent eye rubbing, constant irritation especially in the corners of your eyes closest to the nose, lid swelling or puffy eyes, and red or pink eyes are some of the most common ocular allergy symptoms.
Q: How do allergies directly affect the eyes? (Can allergies do permanent damages to my eyes?)
A: Chronic allergies may lead to permanent damage to the tissue of your eye and eyelids. If left untreated, it may even cause scarring of the conjunctiva, the membrane covering the inner eyelid that extends to the whites of the eyes. Ocular allergies can make contact lens wear almost impossible and is one of the many causes of contact lens drop out. Most common allergy medications will tend to dry out the eyes, and relying on nasal sprays containing corticosteroids can increase the pressure inside your eyes, causing other complications such as glaucoma.
Q: What is meant by the term allergic conjunctivitis? Is that the same as “pink eye”?
A: Allergic conjunctivitis is the clinical term of ocular inflammation of the lining or membrane of the eye, called the conjunctiva, caused by allergic reactions to substances. Although a patient may present with red or pink eyes from excess inflammation, the common term “pink eye”can signify a broad term of conditions and can be misleading, as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other irritating substances can cause redness resembling a “pink eye.” Your eye doctor can differentiate between an allergy reaction and a true infection, which can lead to faster healing with proper treatments.
Q: What is the difference between seasonal and perennial allergies? How would I know the difference?
A: Simply put, seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is a more common and persistent form of ocular allergies that occurs during changes in season, which include outdoor weeds, grasses, and tree pollen. Whereas perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC) is a more mild and chronic presentation that occurs year-round from common indoor allergens, such as animal dander, molds, fungus, and even dust mites.
Q: Can allergies do permanent damage to my eyes? (move this question to the second allergy question, see above)
SPECIALTY FIT CONTACT LENSES
Q: What does “Specialty Fit Contact Lenses” mean. Who would need these?
A: Specialty Fit Contact Lenses are custom made lenses specifically designed for patients with above normal prescriptions, corneal disease, cornea transplant recipients, irregular corneal surfaces, or for those who seek a vision rehabilitation alternative when other standard contacts have failed.
Q: I suffer from Dry Eyes. Are there contact lenses that would be helpful for my condition? Are these “specialty fit” lenses?
A: There are specialty lenses specifically made for patients who suffer from conditions that cause severe forms of Dry Eye Syndrome, including Sjogren’s Syndrome, although some may benefit from simply switching to newer and healthier soft contact lenses or changing replacement schedules. Your eye doctor can determine which choice is right for you based on your needs and the severity of DES.
Q: I have astigmatism and wear bifocals. Is there any chance I could ever wear contacts?
A: Yes! This is one of the most common questions from patients, especially those who tend to use reading glasses over their existing single vision contact lenses. Now more than ever, patients can enjoy newer technology lenses that allow a patient to see all distances without sacrificing quality of vision or relying heavily on reading glasses. Depending on your prescription and visual needs, your eye doctor will determine if monovision, soft multifocal contacts, or gas permeable multifocal contacts are right for you.
Q: Is there ever a need for contact lenses after LASIK surgery?
A: There are many reasons why people return to contact lenses years after undergoing LASIK surgery.Some are no longer candidates for a retouch surgery, while others have had dramatic shifts in prescription over time and are no longer seeing as clear as before. There are those who simply enjoy the extra clarity that contact lenses provide during night driving to minimize glare and haze. While rare, some patients may exhibit a condition called Post-LASIK Ectasia where the cornea becomes excessively thin and bulges forward, causing increased amount of nearsightedness and/or astigmatism, which then leads to decreased vision. Managing Post LASIK Ectasia using specialty contact lenses is another way to provide vision rehabilitation and may prevent the need of multiple surgeries.