Dr. Bowers created the Appalachian Dry Eye Center to address the concerns of patients with chronic dry eyes. Many patients suffer with dry eye for years either because they are unaware or undiagnosed. At the Appalachian Dry Eye Center, we take the time to listen to your concerns and develop a treatment plan for Dry Eye Disease tailored to your needs and specific complaints.
Though dry eyes may sound like a minor condition, there is potential for dry eye disease to cause permanent damage to the ocular surface. Early detection and initiation of appropriate treatment is imperative to minimize long term complications.
Dry Eye Disease is more formally known as ocular surface disease. This disease affects men, women, and children. However, women tend be at higher risk.
Sandy Gritty feeling in the eyes (though this isn't always the first symptom)
Excessive tearing or watering of the eyes
Fluctuation in vision especially with computer use
Dry Eye Disease symptoms don't always result in the feeling of dryness in the eye. As your dry eye progresses, your eyes will become inflamed. This inflammation causes you to release a thin tear or “crying tear” which is trying to flush the inflammation from the ocular surface. This flushing washes away the thicker “lubricating tears” which leads to further drying of the eyes.
This vicious cycle of events will continue until proper treatment is received.
If Dry Eye Disease is not treated, it generally worsens over time which ultimately results in permanent damage to the ocular surface and vision loss due to corneal scarring.
There are various treatment options for dry eye disease. Our doctors will discuss the best course of action after a thorough evaluation of your condition. Treatment options may include, but are not limited to the following:
Treatment Options Include:
Nonprescription and prescription medications
Minor surgical procedures to improve tear volumes
Artificial tears are considered the first line therapy in initial treatment. Unfortunately, for the patient going to the local pharmacy, there are so many choices many of which may actually make your dryness worse. Many over the counter tears contain alcohols that will dry the ocular surface and vasoconstrictors that aid in inflammation of the eye. It is imperative to stay with the artificial tear recommended by your doctor. Switching brands without consulting your doctor may decrease the effectiveness of your treatment and may cause you undue discomfort.
Nutrition plays a significant role in maintaining proper tear production. An easy place to start is making sure you are drinking at least 6-8 glasses of water a day. Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids assist in inflammation control and increasing your natural tear production. You need to make sure you are taking a high quality Omega-3. We recommend Nordic Naturals for our patients. Nordic Naturals are independently tested for purity and do not produce a fishy taste.
The most common medications to treat ocular surface disease are
There are many other medications which may also help in the treatment of your dry eye disease. We will individualize your treatment to meet your specific needs.
A new and exciting procedure called Blephex is a great option for some patients. This procedure utilizes a process to unclog oil glands, exfoliate your lids and lashes, and clear debris. This lid microdermabrasion decreases inflammation levels and increases lubricating tear production. It is well tolerated and successful in patients that have problems with oil flow.
Punctal Plugs are another commonly utilized in office surgical procedure for the treatment of ocular surface disease, or dry eye disease. Small inserts are placed in the tear drains of you lids. These inserts help you to retain more volume of your natural tears.
The procedure is also well tolerated and is reversible should the need arise.
Take our Dry Eye Disease Evaluation Form if you think you may be suffering from any of the symptoms listed.
For a consult with one of our doctors, call or book an appointment online for the Appalachian Dry Eye Center. We are located in the office of Dr. Mark Bowers at Blountville Family Eyecare.