Dry Eye Disease (DED) is a complicated medical condition that reduces the quality, or quantity, of the tear film of the eye. The tear film is essential for maintaining good vision and health of the ocular surface. When the tear film does not adequately and consistently keep the surface of the eye covered, patients experience issues with comfort, vision and health.
Over 17 million people in the US have Dry Eye Disease. 50% with DED are not being treated. Most patients, 80%, have evaporative Dry Eye, a condition that causes the tear layer to evaporate quicker than normal. This leads to brief but repetitive exposure of the surface of the eye to the air. These eyes can produce tears, often they are watery, but the tear quality is less than optimal.
Many people do not report (or perceive) their eyes feeling dry. Symptoms of DED include the following: gritty or sandy feeling; irritation, burning or itching; fluctuating vision; tired or watery eyes. The symptoms can be experienced throughout the day or can be worse at specific times of day.
It is very common to experience more symptoms later in the day or after long periods of visual concentration. This happens when we read for long periods of time; drive on the highway; or look at screens for extended periods.
There are many environmental factors which can worsen Dry Eye Symptoms. Allergies, medications and contact lens wear are some of the external factors that can contribute to ocular surface irritation. Inadequately corrected vision can also result in eye fatigue or discomfort.
There are many different treatment options that vary based upon severity of signs and symptoms as well as lifestyle. Treatment options include over the counter eye drops, prescription eye drops (some used long term, some episodically), eyelid hygiene, warm compresses (properly performed), oral medications, nutraceuticals and supplements, task specific eyeglass prescriptions and coatings, and others.
After a thorough evaluation and history, your eye doctor will prescribe a treatment regimen customized for you based upon the severity of your individual symptoms, preferences, and exam findings. It is common to begin treatment with a more extensive regimen that changes over time as your condition improves. At subsequent visits, the level of your therapy may be reduced as long as the improved comfort and health of your eyes are maintained.
Dry Eye Disease is a medical condition. Examination and treatment of this condition will be billed to the patient’s medical insurance. Vision Plans cover annual dilated wellness exams and vision prescriptions (eyeglasses and contact lenses). Examinations to evaluate dry eye and prescribe treatment cannot be billed to Vision Plans.