The temperatures are dropping in the Okanagan and the furnaces are firing up. This increases the dryness in our indoor and outdoor environments and lots of people are having their dry eye symptoms flare up again. With winter upon us, people are getting ready for skiing at Big White, playing hockey, and many other winter activities. This time is also dry eye season in the Okanagan and this article will provide the latest information on creating a healthy tear film.
Symptoms of dry eye include burning, foreign body sensation, dryness, irritation, and mild itching. Many people only experience these symptoms in certain environments. Therefore, it is important to create an environment that allows for a healthy tear film. Checking the humidity of your environment is the first step, this can easily be done with a humidistat. Humidifiers are a great way of increasing the humidity of the area causing dry eye issues. Computers also contribute to dry eye by decreasing our blink rate. If you spend a lot of time on a computer it is important to take breaks and supplement with artificial tears if experiencing computer-related dryness.
The main cause of dry eye is due to a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction. The meibomian glands produce an oil layer that prevents tears from evaporating. Our first line therapies are targeted at improving meibomian gland function because it is the underlying cause or a contributing factor in the majority of dry eye cases. At Nuvue Optometry, we have specialized heat masks and in-office procedures for treating this condition.
Often in dry eye, an inflammatory cycle develops which requires treatment with eye drops. When the eye drys out damage to the ocular surface occurs, this releases materials into the tear film which cause inflammation and hypertonicity (similar to a saltwater environment). This inflammation and hypertonicity cause more damage to the cells on the surface of the eye and a dry eye cycle develops. The surface of the eye has many important structures for producing a quality tear film and as it becomes more damaged the quality of the tear production continues to get worse. Often, artificial tears are necessary for breaking this cycle and helping the surface of the eye heal. Artificial tears are not created equal. I recommended using a preservative-free tear with medical-grade hyaluronic acid. We have two great brands in our clinic Hylo and I-med.
A lot of people suffer from dryness at night time. This is often due to the eyelids not completely closing at night. At Nuvue Optometry we have specialized humidity masks that keep the eye in a humid environment all night to keep these patients comfortable.
If you have any questions about dry eye or eye health please book an appointment with us at Nuvue Optometry at any time. We are accepting new patients and strive to help the Okanagan with their dry eye, vision, and eye health issues.