Diagnosis of Dry Eyes
The proper diagnosis of dry eyes requires a thorough dry eye examination and dry eye consultation with one of the eye physicians at Center for Sight. During your dry eye examination and consultation, your Center for Sight eye doctor and staff will take time to carefully review your medical history, eye history and eye conditions including any medications that you are taking. Please be sure to tell us about all of the medications you take or have taken recently, including not only the ones prescribed, but those that you may have purchases on your own at the pharmacy.
Next, we will evaluate your tear production by using a specialized microscopic technique to observe the height of the tear film as well by using a clinical test called a Schirmer Test that allows us to actually measure the rate at which you produce natural tears. The eye doctors may also use specially formulated dyes such as Fluorescein, Lissamine and Rose Bengal to help investigate the functioning of the various layers of the tear film as well as the underlying surface of the eye. This is not uncomfortable and will not interfere with your vision.
Based on their findings they will be able to make a proper diagnosis as to the particular cause of your dry eye syndrome and prescribe the necessary tear substitutes, eye drops and/or other options to help restore your tear film back to normal and make you more comfortable.
Treatment of Dry Eyes
Depending on the severity and the cause of your dry eyes, your Center for Sight eye doctor may recommend a number of different treatment options. If you have mild or even moderate dry eyes, the first course of treatment may be to use artificial tears. The selection of the exact type of artificial tear eye drop is important. Depending on the nature of your tear film deficiency, the doctor may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristics in terms of salt content and viscosity. Follow these instructions carefully. In addition there may some environmental factors that you need to alter to make you more comfortable such as how and where you are exposed to heat ducts or fans blowing as well as attempting to keep the areas that you spend a great deal of time in at a proper humidity level.
Sometimes, if the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, they may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish or even take flax seed oil as a dietary supplement. Most likely you will be asked to drink plenty of water. In instances where these approaches do not help relieve your dry eye symptoms, they may suggest the insertion of tiny punctual plugs that will slow down or even stop the drainage of tears from the eye. These plugs are easily and comfortably placed in the Lacrimal Puncta in your eyelids. Initially you may have a temporary dissolving plug put in place to see if your dry eye symptoms are actually responsive to this treatment. If the results are good, it may be necessary to place a more permanent type of plug in the Lacrimal Puncta to affect a long-term solution.
For patients with moderate to severe dry eyes who may have already tried using artificial tear eye drops and punctual plugs without relief, the prescription of Restasis eye drops with or without the other treatments can often help alleviate your symptoms. Restasis works by preventing a type of inflammatory cell from entering the Lacrimal Gland and thus allows your Lacrimal Gland to function more effectively so that you can actually make more of your own natural tears. Restasis eye drops require several weeks of use to actually become effective, so please use these drops exactly as they are prescribed and please be patient.
Even with the above treatment options, there are some cases that may not respond to as well as we would like due to some underlying low-grade inflammatory or infectious process. In these cases it may be necessary to also prescribe an oral antibiotic such as a tetracycline and/or an anti-inflammatory eye drop such as a corticosteroid eye drop.
As you can see, the diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is complex and requires patience and persistence on the part of the physician and the patient. With careful diagnosis and a systematic therapeutic approach, sufferers of dry eye syndrome can most often experience considerable improvement. The physicians and staff of Center for Sight will use every necessary diagnostic procedure to help identify the source of your dry eyes and offer you the best possible solution.
If you or a family member or friend suffers from dry eyes or dry eye syndrome please take a moment to request an appointment by calling Center for Sight in Fall River, Massachusetts at 508-730-2020.
Center for Sight is conveniently located for patients in need of diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes in Massachusetts and Rhode Island and from Attleboro, Fairhaven, Fall River, Franklin, Mansfield, Marion, Mattapoisett, Medfield, Milford, New Bedford, North Attleboro, North Dartmouth, Norton, Oxford, Rehoboth, Somerset, Swansea, Taunton, Walpole, Whitinsville, Woonsocket, Providence, Smithfield, Westport, Lakeville, Dighton, Little Compton and Tiverton.