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Dry Eyes

Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that develops when your eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep the eye’s surface lubricated resulting in multiple symptoms that range from person to person. This can be due to a reduction in tear production or increased tear evaporation from a lack of lipid in the tears that stem from oil glands in the eyelids. The effects can range from minor dryness and discomfort to pain, blurred vision and frequent infections.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the condition but can include:

  • Dry, itchy eyes
  • Burning or stinging
  • Irritation
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain
  • Foreign body sensation

The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a condition that develops when the amount of tears produced is not sufficient to maintain the moisture balance in your eye. This can result in that scratchy sensation, a continuous feeling of dryness, stinging and a sensation of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically in an effort to fight off the condition, dry eyes can cause you to produce excessive tears, which is why some people experience watery eyes.

Causes of Dry Eye Disease

Dry eyes can occur naturally as a result of aging or hormonal changes, typically in women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or going through menopause. In fact, women over 50 have a 50% greater risk of dry eye disease than men do of the same age. It can also result from taking certain medications that reduce tear production such as antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antidepressants. Environmental factors can also play a role in drying out the eyes and DED is common in areas where the climate is dry, dusty and windy. Home air conditioners or heating systems and excessive time spent staring at a computer or television screen can also dry out eyes and exacerbate symptoms due to the lack of blinking while staring at our screens.

Individuals that suffer from certain medical conditions such as diabetes, blepharitis, lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems are more vulnerable to developing DED. Other causes can be due to eye surgery including LASIK, certain conditions in which the eyelids don’t close properly or extended contact lens use.

Diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease

Typically, dry eye disease can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam and a description of your symptoms. On some occasions the eye doctor might decide to do a test that measures how quickly your tears evaporate from the surface of your eye. By instilling a simple dye called fluorescein (much like food coloring) the doctor is able to watch and count how long it takes the tears to start to break up after they’ve asked you to hold your eyes open after a blink. This is called TBUT or a Tear Break Up Time test. A low TBUT generally indicates a lipid (aka oil) deficiency in the tears resulting from oil glands in the eyelids not functioning properly. In another type of test, called a Schirmer test, a strip of filter paper is placed under the lid of the eye and you will be asked to close your eye for five minutes. Following the test the amount of moisture on the strip will be measured. Schirmer tests are performed less frequently than a TBUT test.

Treatment for Dry Eyes

There are many treatment options for dry eyes which are highly dependant upon the cause and severity of the condition. Many mild forms of DED can be alleviated using artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to make up for the lack of natural tears usually produced by your eyes. If over-the-counter drops don’t alleviate your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production or steroids for short-term relief.

More severe cases of dry eyes might be treated with a punctal insert which is a tiny insert containing a slow-release lubricating substance that is placed inside the lower eyelid. Since DED is often related to eyelid inflammation known as blepharitis your doctor may prescribe a heated hot compress mask, specialty eyelid scrubs and sometimes an antibiotic ointment. Finally, punctal plugs might be recommended for severe cases which would be inserted into the tear ducts to reduce the tear drainage in your eyes to keep them from drying out.

If the cause of your dry eyes is something external or environmental, eliminating that cause may solve the problem and resolve the symptoms. Avoid dry environments, hair dryers, heaters and fans, (particularly directed toward the eyes) and smoky environments and wear eye protection such as wrap around glasses or goggles when in dusty or windy areas. Use a humidifier to add moisture to dry indoor air. If working on computer or watching television, make sure to blink purposefully as our natural tendency is to reduce our blink rate when staring at a screen. Also avoid rubbing your eyes as this can further irritate them. Staying hydrated by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day can also help.

In cases where discontinuation or switching to different medications is possible this can eradicate symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend that you limit or refrain from contact lens use for a certain amount of time or switch to a different brand or type of contact lens which will reduce dehydration.

Dry eye disease won’t have a permanent effect on your vision, but there is no reason to endure dry, itchy and uncomfortable eyes, especially since there are so many treatment options to increase moisture and comfort. It’s also important to realize that this is a chronic disease that needs consistent treatment. Your doctor will work with you to create a long term strategy to keep your eyes as comfortable as possible.

Dear Valued Patient:

We plan to re-open on May 20, 2020 to a limited schedule by appointment only—please set appointment online or call or email first.

We look forward to see you again soon!  We place the highest priority on the health and safety of our patients and our eye care staff.  Please read below:

Please read the following carefully to prepare for your visit to our office. We are implementing many new and more stringent procedures to ensure the health and safety of our patients and eye care personnel based on guidelines from the Alameda County Health Department and the CDC to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. During this time we are requiring the following for every patient and in-office encounter:

+We are starting with a limited schedule of appointments for better social distancing and for the safety of our patients (thank you in advance for your patience and understanding).

+All visits are by appointment only, there are no walk-in visits available

+All patients are required to wear their own personal mask before entering the office

+All patients are required to check in over the phone before their appointment

+Insurance coverage verifications must be taken care of before entering office for appointment

+Patient will wait outside in car until notified by text or email when they can come in for their appointment, upon entering, patient’s temperature will be taken and their hands sanitized with alcohol cleaner

+There will be no waiting area in the office, patient will be seen right away-please be on time

+Family or caregivers will need to wait outside in the car, as we will only allow patient to enter office.  Verbal consent for minors is acceptable. Updates will be given family or caregiver over the phone as needed.

+All glasses, contact lens orders will be by curb side pick up only—please call or email and we can help you set up a time to pick up your eye wear safely, maintaining social distancing

Our doctors and staff will increase our cleaning and sanitizing protocols:

+We have the latest HEPA air filters with UVC light disinfection to destroy bacteria and viruses

+Wearing protective face shields and surgical masks and medical grade disposable gloves

+All exam equipment and every surface is sanitized fully with hospital grade sanitizer after each patient encounter

+We have a new safe system of disinfection for all frames which have been touched or tried

+We screen all patients by phone to assure they have been healthy prior to their appointment

+All staff and doctors have passed additional training in more stringent sanitizing protocol

Thank you for your patience and compliance to these new and required guidelines. Our goal is to take care of your eye care needs while keeping you and your family healthy. We also want to help our community overcome this pandemic.

We will get through this together.

Please let us know if you have any questions or need more immediate assistance. 

You can set up a future appointment online at EyeCareDrLee.com or send an email to EyeCareDrLee@gmail.com or DrLeongOK@gmail.com  or call 510-668-0877

Please stay safe and stay healthy.

x

Stay up to date on our COVID-19 pandamic protocols Read Our Blog Post…

Our office continues to monitor the local health announcements on a daily basis. Optometry is an essential service and we will open to new health guidelines to help our patients while keeping everyone healthy. Please read our blog updates for our open date and new safety guidelines. Let us know if you have any questions or immediate eye care needs. Need contact lenses? Let us know, as we can send orders to you with free shipping.
We are responding faster to direct email:

eyecareDrLee@gmail.com

drLeongOK@gmail.com (for ortho-k)

Thank you, stay safe and stay healthy.

COVID-19 guidelines from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention-H.pdf