Do You Live in NYC and Suffer From Dry Eyes?
Doctor Alan B. Schlussel is the founding director of The Dry Eye Treatment Center of New York and New Jersey.
Your tears comfort your eyes in many ways. Water moisturizes; an outer layer of oils lubricates and prevents evaporation; and proteins help protect against infection. Dry eye strikes when your eyes can’t produce enough tears for lubrication or the moisture in your tears evaporates too quickly.
Dr Alan Schlussel, Founder and Director of the Dry Eye Center in Midtown Manhattan.
Doctor Schlussel, a 1984 graduate of the State University of New York College of Optometry has dedicated his career to diagnosing and treating eye care diseases including dry eyes. When Dr. Schlussel experienced first hand the deleterious effects of Dry Eyes, he began to develop a strong interest in helping people who are suffering through what he experienced. Dr Schlussel is unique in the Manhattan area in that he is one of the few Eye Doctors who devote a significant portion of their time on Dry Eye treatment.
The Dry Eye Center with Dr. Schlussel at the helm, seeks to utilize the very latest technology to alleviate and treat the symptoms of Dry Eyes. A common medication that is perscribed are Retastis eye drop, which when administered by an Optometrist that has ascertained the cause of your Dry Eyes can alleviate much of the discomfort.
The Manhattan office of Dr Schlussel and Dr. Law, has seen a large increase over the past few years in contact lens wearers who suffer from Dry Eyes. One of the reasons for the increase in Dry Eyes symptoms is the increase in screen time on computers, cell phones, and TV, which causes excessive drying of the eye. Due to the extensive experience of our eye doctors with many specialty contact lens products, our eye doctors have had considerable success in treating contact lens-related dry eye.
Dry Eye is a very common condition which we treat in our practice. Some recent research by Harris Interactive indicates that about 70% of people with dry eye don’t ever see an eye care professional. That is somewhat disturbing because a lot of patients could be helped by dry eye treatments. There are a number of treatments out there, and you can read about them here.In the Harris Interactive study, mentioned above, the researchers found that nearly half of all Americans experience one or more dry eye symptoms regularly. That’s pretty amazing.
Dry Eye Statistics
It used to be thought that dry eye were more prevalent in women, but now we find men suffer from dry eye nearly as often. Fifty-two percent of women find they experience dry eyes on a regular basis while 43% of men are affected by more than one dry eye symptom.It’s been known that contact lens wearers are more prone to dry eye syndrome. Those who wear contacts are almost 10 times as likely to experience dry eyes as those with perfect vision, and more than 5 times as likely as those that wear glasses. Nearly 1/5 or 20% report using over the counter eye drops to treat symptoms at least 5 times a week. The majority of those who use drops to manage dry eye symptoms said that they are only somewhat successful. Almost 59 percent of adults said that they have not been to a professional for help managing dry eyes.
Common Treatments for Dry Eyes
- One of the most common treatments we recommend is simple. Just BLINK! Blink regularly. Good, hard, fully closed blinks help restore the tear film.
- During heavy computer use, every 20 minutes, look down or close your eyes for a few minute, to give your eyes a rest.
- Drink water. Regular, bottled water is best. Avoid caffeine. Women need at least 91 oz. of water a day. Men need even more.
- Vitamins, particularly Omega 3, have been shown to decrease dry eyes. Fish and flax are good natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is also available in tablet form.
- If using a medicine that is known to contribute to dry eye, like antihistamines or beta blockers, it’s important to combat dry eye with over the counter tear drops.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
There are numerous causes and risk factors that contribute to the development of dry eye syndrome.
Activities That Cause Dry Eye:
When you stare at something you tend not to blink as frequently, and the lack of blinking actually causes the eyes not to replenish the tears often.The main component of tears is water. Most of us don’t drink enough water. If you are dehydrated or not drinking enough, then you may not produce enough tears to keep your eyes moist. Snapple, Coke and other caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea may feel like they quench your thirst, but they actually dehydrate the body. Your body needs water to prevent dry eyes symptoms.
Medications And Dry Eye:
Speaking of which, certain medications are known to contribute to dry eyes; in particular, allergy medication. Especially pervasive at this time of year, the use of Claritin or other antihistamines to control eye allergies or systemic allergies, will often lead dry eye symptoms.Another widespread type of medication that can certainly cause dry eye symptom is beta blockers used for blood pressure.Women that are on antigen therapy are likely notice symptoms of dry eyes. They tend to have a lot more irritation.
Headaches And Dry Eye:
Here is a recent interesting study about the correlation between migraines and dry eyes. Looking at migraine sufferers compared to people without headaches. The results showed greater prevalence of dry eye in the migraine group than in those without headaches. So, researchers are speculating that some migraines may worsen when dry eye symptoms are present. Another study I read recently looked specifically at office work and hypothesized that headaches that people complain of are really being caused by dry eyes. However it is unclear whether one causes the other, or whether computer use is a contributing cause of both headaches and dry eyes.
Blephiritis And Dry Eye:
Another very common cause of dry eyes that we are seeing more and more is something called blepharitis, or meibomian gland dysfunction. That is inflammation of the lid glands that allow produce the oil in the tear film. Over time, those glands that line the lids can get clogged and the oils in your tear film don’t flow on top of the tear film to protect it. People suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction are producing tears, but they’re evaporating too quickly. So in between blinks, the tear film is just drying up or breaking down. That causes redness and other symptoms and classic signs of dry eye. We call that evaporative dry eye. Some suggest that many years of staring at a computer screen increase the prevalence of chronic blepharitis.
Age And Dry Eye:
Hormonal changes can cause dry eyes; women especially over 50, and men as they age in general, are more prone to developing dry eye symptoms.
Environmental Factors and Dry Eye:
Environmental conditions can also play a role in dry eye syndrome. Exposure to cigarette smoke, dry air and pollen are also common dry eye causes.
Contacts And Dry Eyes:
One of the main reasons people discontinue contact lens usage is due to dry eyes. The good news is there has been major improvements across all the brands with special contacts that are aimed at preventing dry eye symptoms.
Why is Dry Eye So Prevalent Today?
Dry eye syndrome seems to have become more common in recent years. Perhaps with the advent of technology iPhones and other mobile devices, more people are squinting down at small print. More people than ever before are spending more time in front of computer screens, or involved in other activities that promote staring. When you stare, you blink less frequently, and this contributes to dry eyes.
Contact lenses are great for correcting vision, and are becoming more popular even for young patients. However, wearing contact lenses can cause dry eye, especially if they are worn for too long or if you don’t take care of them properly. Some brands are better than others, and wearing glasses seems to decrease the risk of dry eyes even more.Furthermore the general population is aging, and the chances of developing dry eye symptoms increase with age.Using medication is another one of the many things that could cause and contribute to dry eyes.