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How Sleep Apnea Affects The Eyes

Did you know that some eye conditions are associated with sleep apnea? According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and Health Canada reports similar prevalence. It’s a sleep disorder where people stop breathing — often multiple times per night — while sleeping.

If you have sleep apnea: it tends to take longer for your tears to be replenished, you’re more likely to have ocular irritation, you have a higher chance of developing floppy eyelids, and you’re at increased risk for glaucoma.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common one is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During OSA, your airway becomes partially blocked due to relaxed muscles in your nose and throat. This causes apnea (the absence of breathing) or hypopnea (abnormally shallow, slow breathing). It’s twice as common in men, and is more likely to affect people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes or heart disease. 

What are the common symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s oxygen supply, which can lead to potentially serious health consequences. 

While snoring is a common symptom, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Interrupted sleep can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue, irritability or depression, headaches in the morning, difficulty concentrating and thinking, and a sore throat.

Which Eye Conditions Are Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Glaucoma

Glaucoma occurs when increased pressure within the eye damages the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain, leading to vision loss and sometimes blindness. In some cases, it might be due to a drop in blood oxygen levels, which happens when you stop breathing. However, CPAP machines, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea, can also cause glaucoma. 

So, people with sleep apnea — even if it’s being treated — need to get their eyes checked on a regular basis for glaucoma.

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome 

Floppy Eyelid Syndrome (FES) is an eye condition where a person has an unusually large and floppy upper eyelid. It can cause eye redness, irritation, discharge, or blurry vision — and over 90% of people with FES also have sleep apnea.

Non-Arteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

Non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION) is an eye condition that occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to the optic nerve. Patients typically complain of significant vision loss in one eye without any major pain. Approximately 70-80% of patients with NAION have been found to have OSA.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Also referred to as an ‘eye stroke,’ retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. A recent study of 114 RVO patients found that sleep apnea was suspected in 74% of the patients that had previously been diagnosed with RVO. 

Other Eye Health Issues Associated With Sleep Apnea

Some other ocular conditions that are more common in patients with sleep apnea include: papilledema, keratoconus, and central serous chorioretinopathy. Furthermore, in addition to glaucoma mentioned above, CPAP machines are associated with dry eye syndrome and bacterial conjunctivitis.

Talk To Your Doc

Get eye exams regularly to rule out eye disorders and prevent potential vision loss, especially if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. At Drs Alan B. Schlussel and Christine Law, O.D. in Manhattan we encourage you to share your medical history with us so we can better diagnose and treat any eye conditions or ocular diseases you may have, and help you keep your eyes nice and healthy.

The Best Foods for Your Eyes

We all know that eating nutrient-rich foods, drinking plenty of water, and exercising can boost our health. So it’s no surprise that these same activities also support eye health. Research has shown that regularly consuming certain vitamins and nutrients can actually prevent or delay sight-threatening eye conditions and diseases such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma. 

Here’s a list of the best vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that can help keep your eyes healthy for a lifetime. 

We invite you to consult with our eye doctor, Dr. Schlussel, to discuss which nutrients are most suited to your specific eye health and needs. 

Vitamins and Nutrients That Support Eye Health

*Always best to speak with your primary care doctor before taking any vitamins or supplements, and to ensure you consume the correct dosage for your body.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency can cause a host of eye health issues, including dry eyes and night blindness. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is a leading cause of blindness worldwide.

Vitamins A and A1, which are essential for supporting the eye’s photoreceptors (the light-sensing cells) in the retina, can be found in foods like carrots, leafy greens, egg yolks, liver, and fish. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating Omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish can support eye health in a few ways. DHA and EPA, 2 different types of Omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve retinal function and visual development.  

Omega-3 supplements can also ease dry eye symptoms. A randomized controlled study found that people who consumed Omega-3 supplements experienced improved tear quality, which resulted in reduced tear evaporation and increased eye comfort.  

Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that accumulate in the lens and retina and help filter out damaging UV rays and blue light. One study showed that individuals who had the highest levels of these nutrients in their diets had a 43% lower chance of developing macular degeneration than those who had consumed the least amount.  

Spinach, egg yolks, sweet corn, and red grapes are some of the foods that contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. 

Vitamin C 

High amounts of vitamin C can be found in the aqueous humor of the eye, the liquid that fills the eye’s anterior chamber and supports corneal integrity. This has prompted scientists to consider this vitamin’s role in protecting eye health. 

Research suggests that regularly taking vitamin C (along with other essential vitamins and minerals) can lower the risk of developing cataracts, and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration and visual acuity loss.

While vitamin C appears to support eye health in a variety of ways, it’s still unclear whether taking this supplement benefits those who aren’t deficient. Vitamin C can be found in various fruits and vegetables, like bell peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, broccoli, and kale. 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect fatty acids from becoming oxidized. Because the retina has a high concentration of fatty acids, sufficient vitamin E intake is crucial for optimal ocular health. 

Vitamin E can be found in almonds, flaxseed oil, and sunflower seeds. 

Zinc

Healthy eyes naturally contain high levels of zinc. A zinc deficiency can cause night blindness, and thus increasing zinc intake can improve night vision. Zinc also helps absorb Vitamin A, an essential antioxidant. 

Make sure to avoid taking high doses of zinc (beyond 100 mg daily) without first consulting your eye doctor. Higher doses of zinc have been associated with side effects such as reduced immune function. You can increase your zinc intake naturally by consuming more oysters, meat, and peanuts. 

Phytochemical Antioxidants

Phytochemical antioxidants are chemicals produced by plants that contain several health benefits. Some studies show that these plant-based chemicals may enhance vision and eye health as well as prevent age-related eye diseases and complications by alleviating ocular oxidative stress. Oxidative stress within the eyes contributes to several eye conditions, including  dry eye syndrome. Consuming more produce with these antioxidants can help balance the anti-oxidant and pro-oxidant system, resulting in healthier eyes. 

Personalized Eye Nutrition 

If you or someone you know is looking for ways to boost or maintain eye health, speak with an optometrist near you about what supplements and vitamins are best for you. For an eye doctor in Manhattan, give us a call at 646-480-6832.

 

Your Eyes Are the Windows to Your Health

Your eyes aren’t just the windows to your soul — they can also reveal valuable information about your general health beyond whether you need glasses, including: diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. It is not unusual for people to come in for an eye exam just to check their eyesight and then have certain health issues or predispositions picked up by the optometrist. 

Eye Exams and Your Health

Eye examinations can help doctors detect general health conditions early enough to intervene. Advanced screenings enable eye doctors to better predict cardiovascular incidents like stroke, and possibly detect signs of mental changes such as Alzheimer’s. Read below to learn how eye exams can unveil a whole lot more than just eye health.

Brain Cancer & Stroke

Because of the similarities between the blood vessels in the eye and brain, an eye doctor can occasionally detect an issue taking place in the brain by examining the blood vessels in the eyes. If swelling or shadows in the eye is observed, it may indicate a serious condition in the brain, like a tumor, or clots that might result in a stroke.

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina at the back of the eye, resulting in Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) and Diabetic Macular Edema (DME). If an optometrist detects leaky blood vessels in the eye, the patient would be advised to see a doctor to help control their blood sugar. Changes are gradual, and they start before visual symptoms are noticed. The earlier diabetic eye disease is managed, the better the chances are of preserving eyesight. 

Hypertension

High blood pressure, characterized by having too much pressure in the blood vessels, can be detected during an eye exam, sometimes even before it’s diagnosed by your regular doctor. The damaged blood vessels lead to swelling, hemorrhages, and leaking — all of which can be observed in the eyes. According to the CDC, hypertension “the silent killer” affects nearly 1 in 3 adults, and up to a whopping 20% of those don’t even know they have it. So early detection at an eye doctor’s evaluation can be truly life-saving.

High Cholesterol 

Eye exams can also detect a buildup of cholesterol. High cholesterol is among the easiest conditions to spot during a complete eye exam, as the cholesterol deposits manifest on the front of the eye, appearing as a thin, gray rim around the cornea. It can also be detected in the retina by assessing artery and vein patterns.

These deposits may indicate the current or future development of Retinal Blood Vessel Occlusion, a condition where blockages restrict blood flow to the back of the eye, causing temporary or permanent vision loss. 

Heart Conditions

In some cases, heart conditions associated with a buildup of plaque in the carotid artery in the heart can also lead to deposits that clog the ocular arteries in the eye. If an optometrist detects such changes to the vascular structure at the back of the eye, he or she will typically recommend going to a specialist.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Sudden vision loss may be attributed to Multiple Sclerosis (MS). While the optometrist can recognize signs indicating the presence of MS, such as the color and appearance of the optic nerve, such cases will be referred for further testing to confirm the diagnosis.

Thyroid

Thyroid disease can make itself apparent through the eyes in several ways. The thyroid gland controls the hormones that regulate tear production so some thyroid disorders can cause dry eye disease. Additionally, overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) can make the extraocular muscles enlarge and stiffen, causing bulging eyes — an indicator of Graves’ disease. 

Inflammation

Systemic conditions that are associated with inflammation in the body can have an inflammatory effect on the eyes. Uveitis, for example, causes eye inflammation, redness, and blurred vision, and tends to occur in people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases. 

Cancer

Breast cancer, leukemia, and other metastatic cancers are occasionally discovered during an eye evaluation. In addition to brain cancer mentioned above, melanoma and basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) can be detected, and eye doctors can also diagnose lymphoma and other eye tumors. Eye exams save lives.

What the Future Holds 

Alzheimer’s 

Recent studies show that a non-invasive and precise imaging device called Octa (optical coherence tomography angiography) can signal the presence of eye changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Because the retina is in many ways an extension of the brain, the altered blood vessels at the back of the eye offer a glimpse into the changes taking place within the brain.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease can often be misdiagnosed as its early symptoms are characteristic of other conditions. Research has shown that subtle eye tremors, an early Parkinson’s marker, could be detectable using advanced eye exam technology. One day soon, practitioners may send patients to an eye doctor to test for this and other diseases.

Your Eye Doctor’s Appointment Could Change Your Life

So the next time you visit Dr. Schlussel at Drs Alan B. Schlussel and Christine Law, O.D. in Manhattan, remember that a comprehensive eye exam can do more than determine your eyeglasses or contacts prescription. Dr. Schlussel can evaluate your eyes for existing or potential health issues, and communicate them to your primary care physician for the best possible care. By knowing that you’re at risk for a certain disease, you can take precautions early on and manage the condition as needed. After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Dry Eye

There are many ways to treat dry eye. The first recommendation is to prevent dry eye symptoms. Blink a lot and drink a lot. Avoid eye irritants, use lubricating eye drops if you are taking medication that puts you at risk for dry eye. Over the counter eye drops for dry eye are widely available. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a focus on vitamins like Omega 3.

Dry Eye Omega 3 Benefits

Omega 3 vitamins are very well-known to be good for general health, and heart health, but they are also helpful Dry Eye Omega Benefitsin treating dry eyes. We recommend at least 3 grams a day of Omega 3. There are a number of commercially available products. The one we carry in the office, made by PRN works very well, but certainly any of the Omega 3’s that are available are helpful in reducing the symptoms of dry eyes.

  • The Right Form and Serving.  4 softgels per day of our patent pending Dry Eye Omega Benefits® provides 2-3 grams of Omega-3s in the re-esterified triglyceride form (rTG).*
  • Heart healthy benefits.  2-3 grams of Omega-3s per day has been shown to provide heart-healthy benefits.*
  • Safe.  This product offers an effective and safe way to increase your omega-3 intake.*
  • Third party tested for purity.  Dry Eye Omega Benefits® is third party tested for over 400 contaminants. Our unique molecular distillation process guarantees the removal of significantly more PCBs (known carcinogens) than non-molecularly distilled omega-3 products commonly found over the counter.

Restasis® Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

One of the most common dry eye treatments we prescribe is Restasis®. Rerstasis® is an eye drop that is used twice a day. It’s the tear drop form of cyclosporine, a medication that is prescribed for many chronic conditions, and it has been found to alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes as well. The downside of Restasis® is that, when you first start taking it, it causes some burning of the eye in some patients, and it does take up to 3-6 months to really work its way into the body. So, often when we prescribe Restasis®, we also prescribe a steroid to reduce inflammation, and avoid the initial side effects like burning and itching eyes.Restasis® seems to improve the quantity of the watery part of your tears, but it doesn’t necessarily help to improve the outflow of the oil that needs to be produced on top of the tears so that the tears don’t evaporate. Right now some of the studies are suggesting that over 50% of people with dry eyes actually have meibomian gland dysfunction. So, if the first lines of treatment are failing to manage dry eye symptoms, consider more rigorous treatments for dry eyes and blepharitis.
View Video

Treatments for Blepharitis and Dry Eye

There are some treatments aimed at treating blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction in particular. One of the more common methods we recommend in the office is using a warm compress with massage. Really, a hot compress should be used multiple times a day for the most effective dry eye relief. TranquilEyes makes goggles fitted with gel packs to make the hot, moist eye treatment more convenient. That will loosen the blockages in the oil-producing glands and help reduce the symptoms. However, that process requires consistency and effort, and it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.There is a medication we often prescribe in the office called AzaSite®. It’s Azithromycin in eye drop form. AzaSite® is used twice a day for two days and then once a day for the remainder of the month. That prescription dry eye treatment seems to be pretty effective, but, like hot compresses, the dry eye treatment is dependent upon patient compliance.

For additional products that are specifically geared toward dry eye, including dry eye cosmetics and dry eye sleeping masks, visit the Dry Eyes Store.

View Video

New Treatment for Dry Eye

The FDA recently approved of a new device called LipiFlow. It has just become available and will be coming to certain eye care practices around the country. The procedure to attach the device to the eye lid is done in the office. LipiFlow actually purges the eye from all the clogged oils by heating up the glands so that the oils get unclogged.During the first session of our eyecare radio show, Laura from Florida, was very satisfied with the LipiFlow procedure we recommended. She high recommended it, saying that LipiFlow is “not uncomfortable at all. It takes about 12 minutes and the results seem to be immediate.” Laura, who had suffered from unmanageable dry eye syndrome for many years, noted that, while “many doctors have never heard of it,” LipiFlow has been “a miracle.”

Come in for an eye exam so we can help you treat dry eyes more effectively, especially since over half the people suffering from dry eye might actually have blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction and they often don’t respond well to over the counter eye drops. There are different methods that are most effective for treating different types of dry eyes.  Now, when you come into the dry eye center in Manhattan, we’ll be able to do a thorough examination and to evaluate that.

Eye Exam for Dry Eyes at Drs Alan B. Schlussel and Christine Law, O.D.

When Dr. Schlussel sees patients in the Manhattan dry eye center we have begin by having the patient fill out a history form. There’s also a discussion kit developed by Allergan. They actually have a great website called My Dry Eyes that presents plenty of information about dry eyes and goes over things you could discuss with your doctor when you go in for an exam, and you can write away for them to send you a kit with suggestions and tips. During the exam, we ask about the dry eye symptoms and other questions that give us insight into the potential causes of dry eye, and find out what – if any – self-management has been done up until now to try to treat dry eye. Then we work together to coordinate the best treatment plan. Dr. Schlussel does a very thorough examination. We spend a lot of time evaluating the tear film, looking at the different layers of the tear film. We measure the quantity and evaluate the quality of the tears produced by the eye, paying particular attention the oil produced in the tear film. Ultimately, we try to diagnose what type of dry eye you have; whether it’s the evaporative, or whether it’s mucus deficient or water deficient. Then we develop a treatment plan based on different methods that we use to treat different types of dry eyes. As your eye care professional, we can coordinate that and try to stay behind what you’re doing.I will spend the time. I’m very understanding of dry eyes because I have it myself. I’ve been treating my own eyes for about five, six years. And a lot of my patients have been coming in with numerous complaints about dry eyes, and we can help a lot of you. If you have any questions call Drs Alan B. Schlussel and Christine Law, O.D., book an appointment online or visit our New York dry eye doctor today

View Video

Dry Eye After Menopause

Dry Eye Disease is a common eye condition – studies show that nearly 20% of North Americans middle aged and older suffer from dry eye disease. The probability of you developing dry eye if you are a woman, and older than 50, increases. Hormonal changes that older women undergo make it much more likely that they will suffer from dry eye as they age, including symptoms such as blurry vision and irritation of the eyes, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

What are the biological changes that happen during menopause which affect your eyes? The tear film in the eyes relies on certain chemical signals to remain stable, and these signals get disrupted during and after menopause. Some doctors believe that androgen, a hormone implicated in menopause, may be the culprit causing dry eye problems for menopausal women. Eyes may become inflamed, which leads to decreased tear production, and possibly dry eye disease. Add in a dry environment and many medications and the risk factors for menopausal women increases exponentially.

Treatments for Dry Eye in Menopausal Women

Estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is sometimes used to treat menopausal symptoms, as the female hormone estrogen is one of the hormones that decreases during and after menopause. However, studies have shown that this treatment does not relieve symptoms of dry eye and it is best to visit our Manhattan dry eye center.

Refractive Eye Surgery

Refractive eye surgery, such as LASIK and PRK, may not be advised if you are 40 or older, and have dry eye disease. These procedures can affect nerve function in your cornea (the clear surface of your eye), which could worsen your dry eye problem. If you want to have a consultation regarding LASIK or PRK, it’s important that your eye doctor know about your dry eye condition. In that case, your eye doctor will know to do the appropriate tests to make sure that there is enough moisture in your eyes for laser vision correction.

There are other health conditions that are associated with dry eye and aging. These conditions include thyroid autoimmune disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. If you suffer from dry eye, make sure your doctor screens you for these diseases.

Allergies may cause eye inflammation, and may be the cause of your dry eye. Prescription and over-the-counter eye drops might relieve your dry eye and allergy problem. Our NYC dry eye specialist will advise you as to which eye drops would be best for you.

Sometimes commonly prescribed medications can worsen, or even cause, dry eyes. Some of these medications are antidepressants and diuretics, which are often prescribed if you have a heart condition. Make sure to talk about this with Dr. Schlussel if you suspect that one of the medications you are taking may be causing your dry eye problems. Perhaps changing your medication will be as effective, and won’t cause dry eye disease.

Dry Eye Center

At our dry eye center we take the treatment of dry eyes seriously. With the latest equipment and treatment options available to treat dry eyes patients. If you think that you can no longer wear contact lenses, or that you will have to suffer with living with your dry eyes symptoms, visit our Manhattan dry eye clinic, where our eye doctors will prove to you that dry eyes is treatable and there are contact lenses for you.

Our practice and eye doctors have specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes for over 25 years and has lectured to eye doctors in New York and New Jersey. As a dry eye sufferer himself, Dr. Schlussel is not only passionate about the subject of dry eyes, he also has first hand experience with the difficulty of living with dry eye symptoms.

Dry eyes, or dry eye syndrome, is one of the most common eye problems today. People suffering from dry eye are 2 to 3 times more likely to experience discomfort, blurred vision and other problems when reading, using a computer, watching television and driving. Check out some of the products in our online dry eye shop and start seeing clearly, today.

 

Our Patients Say It Best...

Great experience! And significantly improved my dry eyes!

Mandy H.

stars

Very Helpful! I moved to the city about 5 months ago and needed a new eye doctor after doing some research i went to Dr Schlussel. He was extremely helpful in diagnosing my dry eye problem and fixing it. He is setting me up with contacts that will help my eyes. He is very nice and professional.

Anonymous, NYC

stars

Hope for the Hopeless! I thought I would never be able to see without blurred vision, much less be able to wear contacts without my eyes turning “devil red,” again. I had been going to another eye clinic and developed a problem out of nowhere. There were no effective interventions. The diagnosis and situation weren’t logical, I wasn’t being heard, and I was basically told I had a condition I would have to live with for the rest of my life. After countless appointments and eight months later I got fed up. I looked online for a doctor that effectively treats “dry eye” and I found Dr. Schlussel. He was very thorough and really listened to me (a dying practice in medicine these days). He told me he knew the problem and had a plan. His diagnosis was spot-on and something I had suspected but had never been heard. He was wonderful at taking the time to review my treatment plan and has given me hope that my vision will improve (already has in just a couple of days) and I’ll be able to see clearly AND wear contacts again!

April H.

stars

Dry Eye Syndrome and Treatment in Midtown Manhattan

What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic eye condition that is characterized by dry eyes and other symptoms including:

  • Dryness
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Itchy eyes
  • Burning
  • A gritty sensation
  • The sensation of a foreign body in the eye
  • Crusty eyelids
  • Blurred vision

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.

Does Dy Eye Affect Many People

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.

What Does the Dry Eye Exam Consist?

When we see patients who suspect they have dry eye syndrome we begin by having them fill out a history form. During the exam, we ask about their dry eye symptoms and other questions that give us insight into the potential causes and find out what – if any – self-management has been done up until now to try to treat dry eye.

There’s also a discussion kit developed by Allergan. They actually have a great website called My Dry Eyes that presents plenty of information about dry eyes and goes over things you could discuss with your doctor when you go in for an exam, and you can write to them for a kit with suggestions and tips.

We do a very thorough examination. We spend a lot of time evaluating the tear film, looking at the different layers of the tear film. We measure the quantity and evaluate the quality of the tears produced by the eye, paying particular attention the oil produced in the tear film.

Ultimately, we diagnose what type of dry eye you have; whether it’s evaporative, or mucus deficient or water deficient. Then we develop a treatment plan based on different methods that we use to treat different types of dry eyes and work together to implement that plan.

If you have any questions, email dral@nynjoptometrist.com, call our eye care office, book an appointment online or visit our Midtown Manhattan dry eye doctor today.

Dry Eye Statistics

It used to be thought that dry eye was 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.

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 ageing, 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.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

There are numerous causes and risk factors that contribute to the development of dry eye syndrome.

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.

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.

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.

Another very common cause of dry eyes that we are seeing more and more is something called blepharitis. Blepharitis is inflammation of the lid glands that allow and 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 blepharitis 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.

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 conditions can also play a role in dry eye syndrome. Exposure to cigarette smoke, dry air and pollen are also common dry eye causes.

Rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, which is a common symptom that rheumatologists treat, can also contribute to dry eyes. Diabetics or those with Glaucoma that requires medication are more likely to have dry eye syndrome.

One of the main reasons people discontinue contact lens usage is due to dry eyes. The good news is there have been major improvements across all the brands with special contacts that are aimed at preventing dry eye symptoms. 

What Treatments Are Recommended By Our Dry Eye Expert in NYC?

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Dry Eye

Lifestyle Changes & Common Treatments for Dry Eye

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Dry Eye

There are many ways to treat dry eye. The first recommendation is to prevent dry eye symptoms. Blink a lot and drink a lot. Avoid eye irritants, use lubricating eye drops if you are taking medication that puts you at risk for dry eye. Over the counter eye drops for dry eye are widely available. Maintain a healthy lifestyle with a focus on vitamins like Omega 3.

  • 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 minutes, 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 eyes, like antihistamines or beta blockers, it’s important to combat dry eye with over the counter teardrops.
Omega 3 & Dry Eye

Omega 3 vitamins are very well-known to be good for general health, and heart health, but they are also helpful in treating dry eyes. We recommend at least 3 grams a day of Omega 3. There are a number of commercially available products. The one we carry in the office, made by EyeScience works very well, but certainly, any of the Omega 3’s that are available are helpful in reducing the symptoms of dry eyes.The multi-vitamin we recommend here is called Dry Eye Formula. It contains Omega 3 with DHA from flaxseed oil and includes vitamin C, vitamin E, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and a variety of other vitamins specifically geared toward patients with dry eyes. Each tablet contains 1 gram of Omega 3, so you take 3 a day. I take it myself after my biggest meal of the day, but some people with sensitive stomachs find they are more comfortable taking 1 tablet after each meal. You can read more about it on our website and there’s a link that makes it easy to order it right from us online.

Xiidra® 5% solution for Dry Eyes

Xiidra® (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% is a prescription eye drop used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease. *Note: Do not use Xiidra if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Seek medical care immediately if you get any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

5 Facts About Xiidra

  • Use Xiidra twice per day: Use one drop of Xiidra in each eye, two times a day, about 12 hours apart.

  • Wear contact lenses?: Take ’em out before using Xiidra and wait at least 15 minutes before popping them back in.

  • Single-dose containers: Each Xiidra container has enough medicine to treat both of your eyes once. So you’ll be using two containers each day, about 12 hours apart.

  • Scrub those hands: To avoid contamination, wash your hands first & don’t let the tip of the container touch your eye or any surface.

  • Have bad aim?: It’s ok! Each container has some extra solution in case you miss. Throw it out when you’re done – don’t save it.

Treatments for Blepharitis and Dry Eye

There are some treatments aimed at treating blepharitis. One of the more common methods we recommend in the office is using a warm compress with massage. Really, a hot compress should be used multiple times a day for the most effective dry eye relief. TranquilEyes makes goggles fitted with gel packs to make the hot, moist eye treatment more convenient. That will loosen the blockages in the oil-producing glands and help reduce the symptoms. However, that process requires consistency and effort, and it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

Lipiflow Treatment for Dry Eye in NYC

The FDA recently approved of a new device called LipiFlow. It has just become available and we are proud to be one of the few practices in NYC with this cutting-edge dry eye technology. The procedure to attach the device to the eyelid is done in the office. LipiFlow actually purges the eye from all the clogged oils by heating up the glands so that the oils become unclogged. During the first session of our eyecare radio show, Laura from Florida was very satisfied with the LipiFlow procedure we recommended. She highly recommended it, saying that LipiFlow is “not uncomfortable at all. It takes about 12 minutes and the results seem to be immediate.” Laura, who had suffered from unmanageable dry eye syndrome for many years, noted that, while “many doctors have never heard of it,” LipiFlow has been “a miracle.” For more information on Lipiflow at our Manhattan practice visit our Lipiflow page.

We offer the latest Diagnostic and Treatment For Dry Eye

The Dry Eye Center Of NY & NJ uses the latest diagnostic equipment and emerging, FDA approved technology to quickly and accurately pinpoint and treat the root cause of your dry eye problem. We don’t just throw any old drops at you either.

We provide custom treatment plans designed to maximize the relief of your dry eye symptoms AND treat the underlying cause of your discomfort.

The Dry Eye Treatment Center of NY & NJ is now offering the Marco Equinox Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT), the latest in dry eye treatment technology.

Developed by NASA, LLLT has proven effective at treating dry eye disease. LLLT uses specially designed LED lights to gently warm up the eyelids, causing the meibomian glands to unclog and release oils.

  • Safe, non-invasive procedure
  • 15 minutes per session
  • No recovery time needed
  • No side effects or discomfort
  • Safe for adults and children

Click here to learn more about this exciting NEW dry eye treatment.

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LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System

The most advanced technology for the treatment of recommended by our Manhattan Dry Eye expert.

The only FDA cleared medical device for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) shown to improve gland function for the 86% of Dry Eye sufferers with MGD.

Our commitment to providing the most advanced care for Dry Eyes in Midtown Manhattan is strengthened with the Lipiflow By Tear Science/Johnson & Johnson Vision.

Learn More About Lipiflow In NYC

Emily's Dry Eye Story
Linda Talks About Lipiflow

Do You Live in Downtown Manhattan 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.

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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 from 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 prescribed is Xiidra 5% soln, 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 speciality contact lens products, our eye doctors have had considerable success in treating contact lens-related dry eye.

As your eye care professional, Dr Schlussel coordinates treatment with you and stays behind what you’re doing. Dr Schlussel will spend as much time as you need and he is very understanding of dry eyes because he has it himself. Dr Schlussel has been treating his own dry eyes for six years. His patients have been coming in with numerous complaints about dry eyes, and he helps a lot them.

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