Dry eyes are caused by a lack of tears. Tears are necessary for the normal lubrication of your eyes and to wash away particles and foreign bodies. Common causes of dry eyes include:
- Dry environment or workplace (wind, air conditioning)
- Sun exposure
- Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
- Cold or allergy medicines
- An eye injury or other problem with your eyes or eyelids (like a drooping eyelid or bulging eyes)
- Sjogrens syndrome — includes dry eyes, mouth, and mucus membranes, and often rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disorder
The following steps may help:
- Try artificial tears, available as either drops or ointment. Ointments last longer, but are thicker and can cause blurry vision.
- Don’t smoke. Avoid second-hand smoke, direct wind, and air conditioning.
- Use a humidifier, especially in the winter.
- Purposefully blink more often. Rest your eyes.
When we evaluate a dry eye patient in our office we begin with the most conservative treatments which include artificial tears. We always explore nutritional options such as Omega three fatty acid supplementation and lifestyle changes. However, if conservative treatment fail we explore the use of pharmaceutical agents such as, Restasis or other anti-inflammatory medications. The use of punctal plugs, which are tear duct plugs are also an option.
There are numerous types of eye emergencies. At our practice we see them all.
- Corneal abrasions – a scratch on the cornea, can cause perfuse tearing, sensitivity to light and extreme sharp shooting pain.
- Vitreous floater – can be a simple degenerative change of the vitreous, the jelly inside the back of the eye. It is made up of water and proteins. The proteins and the water may separate causing the proteins to coalesce together. At that point a black spot appears to be floating in your vision. Sometimes, the vitreous separates from the retina and a piece of retina is torn. Usually, flashes of light are associated with this event. A patient experiencing such a phenomenon must see their eye doctor immediately, since there is a high risk of a retinal detachment.
- Eye infections – a patient usually notices red eyes, discharge, tearing, burning and discomfort.
- Allergic conjunctivitis – patients that have seasonal or environmental allergies may notice itchy, red, tearing eyes. This condition is easily treated with prescription eye drops.
- Central vein/artery occlusions – patients with Hypertension or high cholesterol can have a blockage of their arterial or venous system supplying the retina. This type of event causes severe loss of vision and must be further investigated with extensive blood work and a cardiac evaluation.
In general always remember to call your doctor if:
- Your have red or painful eyes.
- You have flaking, discharge, or a lesion on your eye or eyelid.
- You have had trauma to your eye, or you have a bulging eye or a drooping eyelid.
- Sudden loss of vision.
- Flashes, floaters or a curtain covering your eyes.
- Double vision.
- Pain with eye movements.
LASIK, (Laser-Assisted-In-Situ Keratomileusis) is currently one of the most frequently performed elective procedures in North America. It is a highly effective outpatient procedure, often referred to as refractive surgery, and is used to correct myopia and hyperopia, as well as astigmatism. This procedure, which is performed by ophthalmologist’s and trained LASIK surgeons, uses a cool beam of light from the excimer laser to gently reshape the front surface (cornea) of your eye. This is done by creating a corneal flap on the surface of the eye, which is peeled back to allow the excimer laser to begin reshaping.
Laser Assisted Sub-Epithelial Keratomileusis (LASEK) is a refractive surgery technique developed by Italian doctor, Massimo Camellin, MD and first publicized in 1999. The motivation behind LASEK was to find a surface ablation technique like PRK that induced less discomfort, offers a lower incidence of corneal haze, and provides the patient with faster vision recovery time.
The concern between LASEK and LASIK is the Lasik flap. Although it provides the patient with more comfort, virtually eliminates the probability of haze, and offers very quick visual recovery, if the flap exists, there will be the possibility of flap related problems. Those potential problems do not stop when you leave the surgery suite. Once you have had Lasik you have always had Lasik and you must always consider that your eye is fundamentally and forever changed.