Kelowna’s summer has been hot, dry, and smoky leading to an increase in dry eye prevalence. The environment plays a crucial role in stimulating the dry eye disease process. The Okanagan valley is typically very dry, receiving about 1/3 the amount of rain as our friends in Vancouver. Now this provides a great environment for growing wine, but not so much for our tears due to evaporative pressure. Other environmental stresses include air conditioning, heaters, wind, and digital devices. Screen time has been shown to reduce the amount of blinking to a third of its normal rate. Finding environmental causes that aggravate dry eye, can go a long way to alleviating symptoms.
In order for the tears to provide a lubricated surface, a stable mixture of complex components must be created. An imbalance of these components can create a highly concentrated tear environment (think salt water), which causes a burning or dryness sensation. It is important to select a proper artificial tear, when treating dry eye. Many artificial tears contain preservatives that have toxic effects on the top layer of the cornea, when used long term. This layer is important for creating a uniform tear surface; so using many of these preserved lubricants can be counterproductive. When shopping for an artificial tear, it is important to find one that is preservative-free and contains hyaluronic acid. The ingredient sodium hyaluronate, is helpful in restoring highly concentrated tears to become less “salt water” like and return to a normal healthy state. Research shows 80% of dry eye is actually due to insufficient oil production from glands in your eyelids. These oils cover the water component of your tears and prevent evaporation. Gland function can be treated effectively and affordably at Nuvue Optometry with lid expression and cleaning.
Dry eye disease is one of the most common conditions, affecting up to 29% of the population. At Nuvue Optometry, we have all the latest dry eye technology for diagnosis and treatment. We utilize many tests, including osmolarity assessment for diagnosis and monitoring treatment. We also dispense premium eye lubricants and heat therapy masks at our office. As new research and treatments become available, we will provide them at our clinic. Currently a device is being developed that electrically stimulates the tears, which will hopefully be available for trial soon. If you have any questions or would like to book a dry eye consultation, please call our friendly office anytime.Dr Devin W Almond, BSc, OD