Do you suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome in the Largo, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, or Tampa Area?
Dry Eye Syndrome (DES), also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, refers to the clinical signs and symptoms that occur when the surface of the eye is not nourished by a healthy tear film, or layer of lubricating tears. This can occur when the quantity or quality of the tears is deficient. Often times, Dry Eye Syndrome is a part of an extensive group of ocular surface diseases with wide-ranging symptoms. More than 20% of the U.S. population, including 3.2 million women of all ages, suffers from chronic Dry Eye Syndrome. It is estimated that less than half (45%) of those suffering from dry eye know it or have been properly diagnosed.
It is important to understand that the tear film is not as simple as it might seem. In fact, normal tears are composed of an intricate mixture of, not just water, but naturally produced oil and mucous secretions, as well as over 120 complex proteins and enzymes that are produced by dedicated glands around the eye. Hence, proper management of Dry Eye Syndrome requires a keen understanding of the complexities of both the normal and abnormal physiology that may exist on the ocular surface.
A complex recipe of ingredients is responsible for maintaining the health of our ocular surface, our eyes’ comfort, and our clear vision. When the specific balance of these components is disturbed by any one of many predisposing factors, Dry Eye Syndrome can result. If unrecognized by your eye care provider, or if left untreated, Dry Eye Syndrome can result in chronically irritating symptoms, increased risk for infection, and decreased quality of vision.
Symptoms may vary for each person depending on the cause, severity, and stage of the disease. Early Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome can include:
- An irritating stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation
- A gritty or sandy sensation in your eyes
- Fluctuations in the quality of vision
- Eye "fatigue" with prolonged reading, computer or television use
- Excessive watering of the eyes with tears that don't lubricate
- Sensitivity to light
- Discomfort in contact lenses
As Dry Eye Syndrome worsens, the associated symptoms may change. Patients may no longer notice the physical effects of dry eye, like burning, due to the subtle nerve damage that is a consequence of chronic dry eye syndrome. Previously watery eyes may become devoid of any tears at all. Fluctuating vision may give way to consistently blurry vision that is not improved with changes in glasses or use of over the counter eye drops. Eyes may become persistently red or produce a mucous discharge. Recurrent scratches, erosions, or infections may also develop.
DRY EYE TREATMENT TAMPA BAY
A comprehensive eye exam can reveal the stage and severity of your condition. Your doctor should start by making a detailed review of your entire medical history, including an assessment of other medical conditions and medications, as well as environmental contributors. Your doctor may initially utilize several non-invasive tests to assess the quality and quantity of your tears. These tests include Schirmer tear testing which quantifies the rate of tear production, while corneal staining employs the use of special dyes to assess the quality of tears and the condition of the ocular surface. Your doctor should also measure the "Tear Break-up Time" which reflects the stability of the tear film. Newer tests, called Tear Film Osmolarity, can also be very useful in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye syndrome. In some severe cases, your dry eye specialist may request laboratory tests to look for underlying medical conditions that can cause chronically dry eyes.
Since the underlying causes of dry eye have often been present for many years, the treatment of dry eye syndrome is by no means an overnight process, but rather, should be considered a long-term course of therapy. At The Eye Institute of West Florida we take a comprehensive look at treatment to be sure you receive the individualized care. Treatment options may include:
- Artificial Tears and Lubricants
- Environmental Modification
- Anti-Inflammatory medications
- Eyelid Disease Management
- Tear Duct Plugs
- Nutritional Supplements
- Autologous Serum Drops
- Advanced Surgical Therapy
- Intense Pulse Light (IPL)
If it becomes apparent that your individual case of Dry Eye Syndrome is moderate or severe, your eye doctor may refer you to a local specialist for further evaluation and treatment. Dry Eye Specialists are physicians specializing in ophthalmology that have pursued additional advanced training in diseases of the cornea and ocular surface. As a member of your eye care team, a Dry Eye Specialist will work closely with your current eye care provider, family doctor, and other medical specialists to provide you the highest level of treatment.
Choosing your Tampa Bay Dry Eye Specialist
Contact The Eye Institute of West Florida and make an appointment with our Tampa Bay dry eye specialist, Neel R. Desai, M.D. Allow us to treat your dry eyes to relieve the unnecessary discomfort or potential damage to your vision.
Neel R. Desai, M.D. is a fellowship-trained ophthalmologist specializing in cornea, refractive cataract surgery, LASIK, and corneal diseases of the eye. Dr. Desai is a top graduate of the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine and completed his fellowship at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is recognized throughout the country and internationally as one of only 150 surgeons able to perform advanced corneal transplant procedures. Dr. Desai is well known for his research contributions, and is on the editorial board of EyeWorld Magazine. He has authored numerous book chapters in his field of study and continues to write articles in peer review journals. Additionally, Dr. Desai holds pending patents on new surgical products and advanced cornea surgical procedures of his own design. He joined The Eye Institute of West Florida in 2008.