Shelane Hughson C.O.A., Don Sanderson C.O.A., and Emily Simkins C.O.A.
Bitterroot Valley Eye Associates
A Service of Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital
300 North 10th Street
Hamilton, MT 59840
You should know just how crucial dry eyes are to your health and comfort.
We truly live in a beautiful place. The amazing mountains, fantastic waterways,
gorgeous blue sky and breathtaking views. Montanans are lucky, but with
all this beauty we get to live in a very dry climate. A dry climate equates
to a lot of Montanan's with dry eye syndrome. The number one concern
from our patients is dry eyes.
A lot of people think that a teary, watery eye isn't a dry one. It
can be very confusing! A teary, watery eye is actually a dry eye. Dry
Eye Syndrome occurs when you do not produce the right type of tears, or
they evaporate too quickly. Our tears are made up of oils, mucous and
water. They also hold proteins, electrolytes and vitamins, which play
a very important role in keeping the eyes lubricated and nourished.
There are a few different names for dry eye syndrome: keratoconjunctivis
sicca (KCS), dysfunctional tear syndrome, lacrimal keratoconjunctivis,
evaporative tear deficiency, and aqueous tear deficiency.
Dry eyes are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. The most common signs
and symptoms are: burning, stinging, stringy mucous, the feeling that
something is in the eye, blurry vision that comes and goes, watery eyes,
tired eyes, red eyes, and contact lenses feeling uncomfortable while wearing them.
Treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome
There are treatments for dry eye syndrome, but keep in mind these treatments
do not work overnight and they take time. Some patients may have to treat
their dry eye syndrome for a lifetime. Make it a routine, like brushing
Artificial tears help lubricate the eyes when our own tears lack the proper
balance of moisture and nutrients.
Preservative-free artificial tears are recommended because they have fewer
additives, so you can use them as many times as you want. Artificial Tears
with preservatives can cause eye irritation. Samples of artificial tears
and or coupons can be offered to you by your Ophthalmologist. While reading,
using computer, (any near work) or watching T.V., keep Artificial tears
close and use them while performing these task.
There are also artificial tears made thicker and gel like. These are
usually used at night because they will temporarily blur vision.
- Omega 3's, Fish Oil and or Flax Seed vitamins.
- Hydrate by drinking plenty of water, every person is different so ask your
Doctor how much is right for you.
- If contact lenses are uncomfortable due to dry eyes use rewetting drops.
Your Ophthalmologist may have you temporarily or permanently discontinue
wearing your contact lenses.
Prescription Eye Drops (Restasis Cyclosporine Ophthalmic Emulsion) can
be prescribed by your Ophthalmologist.
Restasis helps increase your eyes natural ability to produce tears, which
may be reduced by inflammation due to chronic dry eye. It does take several
months to see a rise in tear production and comfort.
- Temporary or permanent punctal plugs are another form of treatment and
the procedure can be done within the clinic.
- Cauterization of the tear duct.
- Wearing glasses or sunglasses that fit close to the face or that have side
shields can help slow tear evaporation from the eye.
- Indoors, an air cleaner to filter dust and other particles help prevent
dry eyes. A humidifier also helps by adding moisture to the air.
Leading Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome include:
- Living in a dry climate
- Smoking, the chemicals in smoking cause inflammation and irritate the eyes.
- Some medications have side effects that include dry eye.
- More women than men have dry eye, due to low testosterone.
- Poor diet
- Excess alcohol
- Lack of exercise
- Chronic stress
- Wearing contact lenses too long. Always use rewetting drops daily. Do not
sleep in contact lenses!
- Reading, computer use, watching T.V., or any task that requires concentration
can lead to dry eyes. When performing these tasks, we concentrate so hard,
we forget to blink. Our lids help in moisturizing our eyes and act as
miniature windshield wipers, spreading tear film around the eyes surface.
If there aren't sufficient tears, then artificial tears help.
- Nutrition for the eyes is important as well. Eating the right foods, can
help lubricate and keep your eyes healthy. Good sources are fish oil,
eating salmon, halibut, sardines and tuna. Other sources are flax seed
oil and flax seed. Flax seed should be ground, and can be sprinkled in
yogurt. Antioxidants, which fights off free radicals, such as a diet in
dark fruits, such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, acai berries,
and cherries. Dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach and chard
are also healthy options.
When should you see your ophthalmologist?
A good time to see your Ophthalmologist is when you have symptoms of pain,
redness or watering. He or she will evaluate your condition and treat
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Sources: National Eye Institute, WebMD, and Restasis.
Questions and or comments regarding this week's health column please
contact, Shelane Hughson C.O.A., Don Sanderson C.O.A., or Emily Simkins
C.O.A. at Bitterroot Valley Eye Associates, a service of Marcus Daly Memorial
Hospital, 300 North 10th Street, Hamilton, MT 59840. Working together
to build a healthier community!