The number one complaint of patients in Edmonton is dry eyes.
This can be anywhere from annoying to debilitating. Edmonton is an extremely dry environment, especially in the winter. People who move here from other climates often have the hardest time adapting. Contact lens wearers will also find a decrease in wear time and end of the day comfort here. There are however some things we can do to improve the problem.
Examination of the eyes is the best way to give specific advice to each patient, but there are some changes you can make to improve the problem. First we recommend you increase the amount of water you are drinking. Secondly we advise patients to increase the amount of Omega-3 they are consuming in their diet. This can be increased either by taking supplements (2000 mg/day) or eating at least four servings of non-farmed, small cold water fish each week. To help improve the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 we also advise patients to reduce consumption of red meat. A third technique is to use warm compresses around the eyes. By heating up the oil glands and gently massaging them you can increase the oily layer of the tear film which will reduce the evaporation of tears.
If these natural approaches are not effective, using artificial tear drops can improve comfort. You doctor can be helpful in selecting the right tear drops for your eye. Some individuals do not like putting drops in their eyes, or find it annoying to continually instill drops in their eyes enough times to reach an effective level. For these patients we often recommend PUNCTAL OCCLUSION THERAPY. We offer two types of punctal occlusion, temporary and permanent. The most popular form of punctal occlusion is temporary where a synthetic cylinder is inserted into the small tear drainage hole in the lower lid. This inhibits drainage of the tears already being produced keeping the eye more lubricated. The plugs usually last six months before they dissolve. This procedure is nice because it has lower risk in infection, is painless, is reversible if excess tearing is occurring and does not damage the lids structure. Punctal occlusion is $85 for temporary plugs and $150 for the permanent.
For patients with contact lens problems we often recommend some or all of the above therapies in addition to switching into contact lenses more specifically designed for patients suffering from dry eyes.
ADVANCED THERAPIES FOR DRY EYES:
Many people do not realize that watery eyes are actually a hallmark sign of dry eyes. If you have tried several techniques to help with dry eyes with limited or no success, you might benefit by scheduling into our dry eye clinic. The treatment plans we prescribe are very specifically tailored to what we discover when we examine your eyes.
For some patients the problem stems from an infection and inflammation of their eyelids called blepharitis. At the Alberta Eye Health Clinic we offer the Blephex lid cleaning treatment. This procedure meticulously cleans the bacteria and debris that is the source of dry eyes, itchy lids and redness in and around the eyes. In many cases the cause of lid irritation is from a tiny mite called demodex. Demodex is very difficult to kill, but by combining the BlephEx treatment with a tea tree oil formulation we see amazing improvements. The BlephEx procedure includes a three month follow up visit and an additional treatment if required for $120
Inflammation of the ocular surface is now thought to be the leading cause of chronic dry eye. Although increasing Omega-3 in your diet is an essential step, in some cases prescription drops are required. After evaluating your eye, your optometrist may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drop such as Lotemax to confirm the diagnosis. If it is a helpful therapy, a mild cyclosporine drop called Restasis may be prescribed for long term relief with little side effects.
Another effective in office technique we use is to express the lid's meibomian glands. By warming up the lids and expressing any stagnant glands, you eye will be better able to produce the essential oil layer that prevents your tear film from evaporating.