Here at Optique, we hear it all the time: “How can I get relief for my dry eyes?”
When people ask us this, they usually are experiencing one or more symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome, whose medical name is keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS).
The most common form of dry eyes occurs when there are poor-quality tears being produced by the eyes. The symptoms you experience are typically irritated, burning, and/or scratchy eyes. You may also experience the feeling of something in your eyes, excessive watering of your eyes, or blurred vision. An advanced dry eye condition can be serious, because it can damage the front surface of your eyes, and impair your vision.
Announcing Optique’s New Dry Eye Center
If you’ve experienced dry eyes in the past, someone may have told you, “Oh, don’t worry about it. Just put a drop of artificial tears in each eye, and you’ll be fine.” But it’s important to realize dry eyes are often a medical condition requiring more sophisticated treatment and management.
This is why we’ve recently opened the Dry Eye Center here at Optique. We analyze the specific cause of dry eyes and work to find innovative, specific-to-the-patient tests and strategies, as a means of helping each patient effectively manage the problem. We are always working on dry eye relief. We felt there was a huge need for this, because, in our experience, even optometrists and ophthalmologists ignore complaints, or don’t adequately treat dry eyes, more than 90 percent of the time. This is true for a few reasons, but chiefly, there simply is no “quick fix” for dry eyes—no pill, for example, that can instantly treat the condition. Doctors seem to have difficulty managing a chronic condition where there are innovative new therapies. It takes the average doctor 10 years to adopt therapies that are already considered to be the standard of care. So, if your doctor is not keeping up with the latest research and treatment options, he/she will be less likely to offer a good solution.
How Nashville’s “Allergy Central” Environment Affects Your Dry Eyes
If you’ve lived in Nashville for any length of time, you’ve heard someone (or yourself!) say: “I never had allergies until I moved here! Now I suffer from them all the time!”
That’s, in part, because Nashville is geographically located in a basin—one that does a spectacular job of accumulating allergens and not letting them go. That makes Nashville “Allergy Central,” and it causes far more people to suffer from dry eyes here than in other cities. That means—predictably—that many of the patients we treat at our Dry Eye Center do have allergies of one sort or another.
Dry Eye Treatments Specifically Tailored to You, the Patient
Generally, our patients fall into one of two categories with regard to allergies: Either they are allergic to one or two specific things, or they are allergic to virtually everything in the environment.
If you fall into the “Allergic to One or Two Things” camp—such as being allergic to dust mites or to mulberry trees—we generally respond by practicing avoidance, to help you minimize easy-to-avoid triggers. For example, if your home is dusty, we’ll say, “Let’s start by getting the ducts in your house cleaned, and by installing a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arrestance) air filter there.” Then, once you’ve done that, we can move on to “deeper dive” eye care treatments built on a firmer foundation.
If, on the other hand, you fall into the “Allergic to Virtually Everything” camp, you can do one of two things to start your treatment:
- Go to an expensive, allergist . . . who might treat you with weekly shots for up to two years, and which can cost up to $5,000;
- Pursue a strategy often recommended here at Optique . . . which allows you to treat your allergies using a sublingual (under-the-tongue) compound. This is an organic way of treating your allergies the same way shots do. This once-a-day treatment allows your body to gradually build up immunities to allergens, in a way that is far less expensive and far less disruptive to your life. We like this manner of treatment, because, in order to treat your dry eyes, we are holistically treating your entire body’s allergens-related problems.
State-of-the-Art Dry-Eyes Management, No Matter the Cause
So far, we’ve concentrated on allergies as a huge cause of dry eyes. But there are other causes and/or situations that can lead to dry eyes, too. These include:
- Wearing certain types of contact lenses . . . particularly when you wear them for a long period of time;
- Taking certain medicines for allergies and other health issues. . . including antihistamines, decongestants, antidepressants, and blood-pressure medications;
- Having a more serious medical condition . . . such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, Sjogren’s Syndrome, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids;
- Being older . . . Dry eyes often come with the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes;
- Being female . . . Due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and menopause, women are more likely than men to develop dry eyes;
- Being subjected to certain environmental conditions . . . Exposure to wind, smoke, and dry climates can increase tear evaporation, resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly—such as when staring for lengthy periods at a computer screen—can also contribute to dry eyes;
- Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK . . . which can decrease natural tear production.
Here at Optique, we specialize in “Bespoke” services that offer specific-to-you eye care treatments. This ethic now carries over seamlessly to our Dry Eye Center, where we’re using different diagnostic protocols, tracking protocols, and treatments to relieve your dry eye symptoms. No matter the cause of your dry eyes, we have a treatment to help.