A common problem for many people, the symptoms of dry eyes can present itself in vastly different ways. Early dry eyes may induce only transient blurring of vision after prolonged reading or use of computers. Untreated, these early symptoms can continue to moderate dry eyes causing burning sensations, redness, foreign body sensations (feeling like an eyelash in the eyes), excessive tearing frequently throughout the day, or sensitivity to lights (outdoors as well as indoor lights). Mild to moderate dry eyes, while not debilitating, is often moderately uncomfortable and at times a cause of embarrassment when tearing occurs unexpectedly. Severe dry eyes can be debilitating, painful, and potentially blinding. Some individuals suffer from severe pain, and if left untreated, can develop significant scarring of the cornea (the clear front part of of the eye) leading to irreversible vision loss.
Many patients who have the early to moderate symptoms of dry eyes do not realized their problems can be alleviated. They often go to their eye doctor and neglect to ask them to address their symptoms. In some cases, the clinical signs (what the doctor sees) may not match the symptoms experienced by the patient. Without such prodding by the patient, eye doctors sometimes may not seek out their patients’ dry eye problems. Such a cycle of ineffective communication between doctors and patients lead to unnecessary suffering from dry eyes.
An evaluation for dry eyes starts with a comprehensive eye exam with an eye doctor. Paying particular attention to the health of the eyelids, meibomian glands (glands that release oils into the tears), tear production, and the tear drainage apertures (punctum), the doctor can uncover the specific cause of your dry eyes. Many times the cause is complex and is due to more than one factor. For instance, certain medications or systemic conditions are known to exacerbate dry eyes. The treatment for dry eyes depends on the underlying cause and is tailored to each individual. Keep in mind however, you should never stop taking any medications without speaking with your doctor.
People who have may have symptoms of dry eyes should seek care from their eye doctor. Discuss specifically what problems and symptoms you are experiencing, and be proactive in asking your doctor to address those issues. Keep in mind that some forms of dry eyes require lengthy treatment and followup before getting better.
Dr. Thanh-Vi Nguyen (pronounced “Win”) has been serving the eye care needs for residents of the Coachella Valley for the past 2 years. She is excited to bring her new Optometrist office in La Quinta. Her commitment to quality and thorough eye care stems from her education at the world renowned University of California, at Berkeley, College of Optometry,and her residency training at Baltimore Veterans Affairs Hospital.