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Dry Eye

What’s The Connection Between Dry Eye And Asthma?

Woman with Dry Eye And AsthmaResearchers have already established several known risk factors for developing dry eye syndrome: the quality of your tears, excessive screen time, air pollution, hormonal fluctuations, aging, certain medications and medical conditions, and even one’s gender (females are more prone).

Here’s another risk factor that’s recently been added to the list: having asthma.

Asthma is a disease of the lungs that affects about 300 million people around the globe. Symptoms include wheezing, chest tightness, coughing and breathlessness.

Fortunately, asthmatic patients are usually able to do the activities they enjoy by taking prescription medications that facilitate easier breathing.

But medical professionals have noticed that individuals taking these medicines, and sometimes even asthmatic patients who don’t, have a higher incidence of dry eye syndrome.

If you have asthma or any other risk factors for dry eye syndrome, let your eye doctor know. The eye care professionals at Excel Eyecare OD PA can identify the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms and provide you with lasting dry eye relief.

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes consistently lack proper lubrication, either due to insufficient tears or tears that lack essential oils.

Here’s a list of the common dry eye symptoms:

  • Burning, gritty or itchy eyes
  • Eye dryness
  • Red or painful eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Stringy mucus around the eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty or inability to wear contact lenses
  • Feeling that something is stuck in your eye

What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?

Most cases of dry eye syndrome result from the dysfunction of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which produce the vital oils needed for healthy tears, and which reduce tear evaporation. But dry eyes can also be caused by some autoimmune diseases, hormone replacement therapy, certain medications and, it appears, asthma or the medications that treat it.

Environmental factors that can bring on dry eye syndrome include exposure to wind or airborne irritants, pollution, infrequent or incomplete blinking (people blink less when they use digital devices), heating, air conditioning and dry weather. Certain makeup products, including mascara, and application methods such as applying makeup on the eyelid margin, can block the glands that lubricate the eyes.

Can Dry Eye Syndrome Be Cured?

There is now a wide range of treatment options that can successfully manage your dry eyes. The key is to allow us to find and target the underlying cause of your condition, so we can create a plan to minimize and sometimes eliminate your dry eye symptoms.

What’s the Link Between Asthma and Dry Eye Syndrome?

Several studies have examined the relationship between asthma and dry eye syndrome and found that although a link exists, researchers aren’t sure exactly why.

One study, published in BMJ Open (2019), found that asthmatic people of Australian, Caucasian and Asian descent have higher rates of dry eye syndrome than those without asthma.

Another study, published in Medicine (2020), established a significant link between asthma and dry eye syndrome, and found that children with asthma tend to have an unstable tear film — a common cause of dry eyes.

One hypothesis is that asthma medications, like inhaled corticosteroids, oral antihistamines and leukotriene receptor antagonists may contribute to eye dryness by inhibiting tear production, but further research is needed.

Could asthma itself be the culprit? Possibly, but more research is needed for a better understanding. What is known, however, is that having low blood oxygen levels caused by severe asthma can deprive the front section of the eye (the cornea) of oxygen, potentially leading to dry eye syndrome.

What’s the Bottom Line?

Research shows that having asthma may increase your risk of experiencing dry eye symptoms.

If you have asthma, speak with your optometrist about lowering your risk of developing dry eye syndrome and make sure to bring all of your asthma medications to your next eye exam.

If you already have certain symptoms of dry eye syndrome, promptly contact Excel Eyecare OD PA to schedule a dry eye consultation. We’ll create a personalized treatment plan so you can enjoy long-term relief.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What at-home remedies can relieve dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Make sure to stay hydrated and wear sunglasses whenever outdoors. If you use an indoor heater or air conditioner, direct the airflow away from your face. Use a humidifier at home and at work. You can also try using a warm eye compress. Ask your eye doctor for instructions on how to do so. But keep in mind that trying to manage dry eye syndrome without seeing a dry eye optometrist won’t be as effective.

Q: How is dry eye syndrome treated?

  • A: The type of treatment depends on what’s causing the symptoms. For example, if premature tear evaporation is the problem, your optometrist may prescribe eye drops. Or if your meibomian glands aren’t functioning as they should, unclogging the glands may do the trick. Medicated eye ointment or drops may be prescribed, or we may recommend certain in-office dry eye treatments. Each treatment plan is carefully formulated with your eyes and lifestyle in mind.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

The Link Between Dry Eyes and Depression

The Link Between Dry Eyes and DepressionDepression is a serious illness that impacts a person’s mood and emotional well-being. It creeps into all areas of a person’s life, and can become life-threatening if left untreated.

Not only does depression impact mental health; it can manifest as physical symptoms, too, like insomnia, chronic pain and inflammation, weight loss or gain and heart problems, among others. These physical problems can worsen depressive thoughts — sometimes leading to a vicious cycle.

Interestingly, many patients with depression also suffer from severe dry eye symptoms. The question is, how are these two conditions related?

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome, also known as dry eye disease, is a chronic condition that results from inadequate lubrication of the eyes. Ocular hydration is crucial when it comes to keeping your eyes healthy and your vision clear. Your tears are responsible for maintaining this necessary hydration, and in healthy eyes fulfill their unique mission each time you blink.

Your tear film is made up of three layers, consisting of oil, water and mucus. If any of these layers become compromised, inadequate tear quality or insufficient tear quantity can result and lead to a host of uncomfortable dry eye symptoms.

The most common dry eye symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Red or irritated eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Blurry vision

Can Depression Cause Dry Eye (or Vice-Versa)?

This is what researchers are trying to find out.

In a March 2022 study published in JAMA Ophthalmology, researchers examined the link between depression and severe dry eye symptoms. The study followed 535 dry eye patients for an entire year.

After a year, the patients who tested positive for depression had more severe dry eye symptoms than the patients who didn’t have depression. Their symptoms were measured based on the Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI), Brief Ocular Discomfort Index and composite dry eye disease sign score.

Additionally, severe depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms at baseline, six months, and one year.

The study concluded that depression was associated with more severe dry eye symptoms, which suggests that among patients with moderate to severe dry eye syndrome, those with depression may be likely to have more severe dry eye symptoms.

The researchers said further research is needed to learn exactly why people with depression have more severe dry eye symptoms than those without depression.

Could the sometimes debilitating symptoms of dry eye syndrome actually cause depression and anxiety?

A 2016 dry eye study published in Nature concluded that chronic discomfort and pain from dry eye symptoms can negatively affect the cognitive processes, sleep, mood and mental health. The researchers urged eye doctors to be aware of the higher incidence of dry eye syndrome in people with depression, whatever the underlying cause.

Can Antidepressants Cause Dry Eye Symptoms?

Yes. Antidepressants have been shown to increase dryness in the body, including the eyes. These medications work by blocking signals between nerve cells, which can result in insufficient tear production and dry eye syndrome.

If you’re taking an antidepressant, be sure to inform your eye doctor during your consultation.

How We Can Help

At Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte, we recognize that some of our patients that come in with dry eye symptoms may be suffering from depression.

We’ll diagnose the cause of your dry eye symptoms and offer the most effective dry eye treatments to give you the relief you’re searching for.

Contact us today to schedule a dry eye assessment and take the first step towards regaining your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: Who is affected by dry eye syndrome?

  • A: While dry eye syndrome is most common in adults over 50, it can occur at any age. The following factors can increase your risk of dry eye:
    – Aging
    – Hormonal changes
    – Medical conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis
    – Prolonged screen time
    – Living in a dry, dusty or windy environment
    – Eye allergies
    – Blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction
    – Certain medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapy
    – Vitamin A deficiency

Q: How can you reduce your risk of dry eye?

  • A: While some dry eye risk factors can’t be avoided completely, making some lifestyle changes can help. Practice these recommended tips:
    – Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
    – Wear wraparound sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes from harsh winds
    – Take frequent screen breaks and blink often while using your digital device.
    – Quit smoking
    – Use lubricating eye drops
    – Consume a healthy diet including omega 3 and drink plenty of water.
    – Have regular eye exams

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

5 Ways to Prevent Dry Eyes During Air Travel

Dry Eye Air Travel Tips 640×350While traveling can be taxing on the entire body, the eyes are especially vulnerable — particularly when wearing a mask to protect from COVID. When traveling by plane, the dry air can cause your eyes to become red, parched and irritated. While you can’t control all variables during your travels, eye specialists have discovered a number of ways to reduce the chances of experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of “travelers’ dry eye.”

Here are five suggestions for preventing dry eye from affecting your vision.

Drink plenty of water. If your body isn’t properly hydrated, it will have a tougher time increasing tear production in a dry atmosphere. Humidity levels on planes are typically below 20%, which is lower than the Sahara Desert! Keep your eyes moist and comfortable by drinking plenty of water before, during and after your flight.

Wear your glasses. Since contact lenses remove moisture from your eye’s surface tear film, they can contribute to dry eye. Wearing your glasses can help keep your eyes moist.

Wear a sleep mask. Even when your eyelids are closed, your eyes might lose moisture, which happens frequently when you sleep. On a plane, a sleep mask can help prevent additional dryness.

Use hydrating eye drops. When you’re in a dry environment, a good hydrating eye drop can provide a brief respite.

Make sure your face mask fits snugly. When a person’s breath rises upward it can dry out their eyes. A face mask that fits securely around the bridge of the nose can prevent air from reaching the eyes.

Is dry eye making you miserable, especially when traveling? Put an end to the discomfort and struggle by contacting Excel Eyecare OD PA. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: Can dry eye be cured?

  • A: In some cases, yes. A range of successful treatment options can help manage dry eye for long-term relief. Your eye doctor can also provide in-office treatments for more advanced forms of dry eye disease.

Q: What type of treatments are available for dry eye?

  • A: Depending on the cause of the dry eye, treatment options include:
    – Lubricants
    – Punctal plugs
    – Topical steroids
    – Warm compresses
    – Protective eyewear
    – Intense pulse light
    – Switching to medications that don’t cause dry eye symptoms

Looking for dry eye treatment? Contact Excel Eyecare OD PA today!

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

Why Computer Use Can Cause Dry Eye & Eye Strain

Long Term Computer Use 640Nearly 60% of the Western world use some kind of digital device — a phone, computer, tablet, TV — for at least 5 hours a day. All that screen time can result in eye irritation and dryness. In fact, dry eyes and eye strain have become so common that researchers have coined a name for it: computer vision syndrome (CVS).

What is Computer Vision Syndrome?

Computer vision syndrome (CVS) is an eye condition commonly experienced after staring at a computer screen, at arm’s length or closer, for an extended period of time. It is characterized by eye strain and dry eyes.

Because more people work and study at home as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, eye doctors are reporting a significant rise in the number of adults and children exhibiting these symptoms.

The symptoms of CVS include:

  • Red, watery eyes
  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • The feeling of having something in your eyes

Computer vision syndrome symptoms are similar to those found among dry eye syndrome sufferers, a condition that also tends to develop as a result of extended computer use when blinking is reduced. Blinking is critical for good eye health as it rejuvenates the tear film on your eyes, ensuring constant hydration and protecting them from damage.

5 Tips to Prevent CVS

Luckily, computer vision syndrome can be effectively managed with a few simple adjustments to your screen time.

  1. Take regular breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule to prevent staring at your screen for too long. Take a break from your computer or device for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at something at least 20 feet away.
  2. Adjust your angle. Make sure your screen is 20-28 inches from your eyes and that the center of the screen is 4-5 inches lower than eye level.
  3. Use a cool-air humidifier. A humidifier adds moisture to the air and prevents your eyes from drying out.
  4. Reduce glare. Your eyes work harder to read when there is glare reflecting off your screen. Make sure your screen is positioned in a way that prevents glare from windows and lighting. You can also add a glare filter for eye comfort.
  5. Get computer glasses. Computer glasses allow your eyes to focus on a computer screen with less effort and the blue-light filter may also reduce exposure to potentially harmful blue light emitted by digital devices.

By taking regular breaks from your screen, you give your eyes and body a much-needed rest. To learn more about computer vision syndrome and to receive treatment to alleviate dry eye symptoms and eye strain, contact Excel Eyecare OD PA.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

 

Q: What’s the link between staring at a computer screen and dry eye?

  • A: Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try to blink more, especially while using the computer and reading.

Q: Can blue light glasses help avoid computer vision syndrome and dry eye?

  • A: Spending long periods of time on a computer or device can negatively affect your eyes, potentially leading to computer vision syndrome and dry eye. Symptoms include blurred or double vision, headaches, eye strain, eye fatigue, sleep disruptions, and dry eyes. Computer glasses offer blue light protection by reducing the dangerous effects of blue light and the risks of computer vision syndrome.

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Excel Eyecare OD PA serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, all throughout North Carolina.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

What Causes Bulging Eyes?

What Causes Bulging Eyes 640×350When you look at a pair of healthy eyes, you shouldn’t be able to see the whites of the eye above or below the iris. If some white is always visible between the iris and eyelid, the eyes are considered to be protruding out of their normal position.

The medical term for this condition is exophthalmos, or proptosis, and is thought to affect about 1 in 4,000 individuals worldwide.

Bulging eyes aren’t a standalone condition, but rather a symptom of another health problem. Several medical conditions can cause one’s eye or eyes to bulge, and the treatment plan depends on the underlying condition.

It’s important to note that a sudden bulging of one eye is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate attention.

Common Causes of Bulging Eyes

The most common cause of exophthalmos is thyroid disorders, especially Grave’s disease (hyperthyroidism). Thyroid eye disease is a condition that causes the muscles, eyelids and tear glands to swell, resulting in a bulging appearance.

Symptoms of thyroid eye disease can include:

  • Painful eyes
  • Dry eyes
  • Irritated eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Difficulty with eye movements
  • Pressure around or behind the eyes

Thyroid-related exophthalmos usually takes up to several months or years to manifest.

Other reasons for bulging eyes include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Hemangioma
  • Bleeding behind the eyeball due to injury
  • Infection of the eye’s tissues
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Connective tissue disease
  • [Tumors]

What Should You Do If You Notice Your Eyes Protruding?

Sudden bulging should be addressed by a medical professional without delay.

Otherwise, schedule an appointment with your physician as well as your optometrist. Be prepared to answer questions about your symptoms, general health and family history to receive an accurate assessment and diagnosis.

How We Can Help

Left untreated, exophthalmos can lead to corneal dryness, inflammation of the eye tissue and dry eye syndrome. The eyes may not be able to close completely during a blink, making them prone to insufficient lubrication and hydration.

We can treat your dry eyes and relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with bulging eyes. Treatment will be tailor-made to meet the needs of your eyes and overall health status.

To schedule a consultation, call Excel Eyecare OD PA in Charlotte today!

Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a condition characterized by chronic eye dryness that can be caused by genetic, environmental and other factors. Very often, it is caused by malfunctioning glands that secrete nourishing oils into the tear film. Symptoms of DES can include redness, irritation, watery eyes, blurred vision, light sensitivity, stringy eye mucus and eye pain.

Q: Can dry eye syndrome harm eye health?

  • A: Left untreated, dry eye syndrome can cause corneal ulcers, which may lead to permanent vision loss. If your eyes are giving you any trouble, speak to a dry eye eye doctor, who can diagnose the problem and help you achieve the relief you seek.

Request A Dry Eye Appointment
Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870

What to Know About LASIK and Dry Eye

Woman Teary Eye Winter 640×350LASIK surgery is a remarkably safe and effective procedure. That said, no surgery is without risks, even if uncommon.

One of LASIK’s side effects includes dry eye, characterized by dry, itchy, red, watery and gritty eyes. It is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality oil in the tears that prevent the eyes from being properly lubricated. Our eye doctors will guide and educate you on dry eye after LASIK so that you understand what to expect during the healing phase of the procedure.

Book an assessment at Excel Eyecare OD PA to determine your likelihood of developing dry eyes after the laser procedure and address the condition so you can fully enjoy clear vision.

What’s Connection Between LASIK Surgery and Dry Eye?

During LASIK, a laser is used to cut a flap of the cornea, which lets the eye surgeon reshape the cornea with the laser.

Though we use the most advanced technologies to ensure the highest levels of safety and precision, creating corneal flaps can occasionally result in temporary damage to the corneal nerves. This causes the nerve impulses that control tear production to be interrupted. In most patients, as the cornea heals, the nerves heal as well, thus resuming regular and healthy nerve function. Flap complications are incredibly rare among those who closely follow the post-surgery instructions provided to them. However, if they do occur, our highly skilled eye doctor will address the issue and offer optimal treatment.

It is estimated that 50% of people who undergo LASIK surgery report dry eye symptoms in the following days and weeks. In the majority of cases, the dry eye symptoms subside on their own.

Some patients may have experienced dry eye symptoms before surgery. They might even have opted for LASIK due to discomfort when wearing contact lenses, not realizing that this discomfort might be caused by a pre-existing case of dry eye syndrome.

Whether the presence of dry, itchy eyes precedes LASIK surgery or is an aftereffect, it’s important to assess the risks of developing or exacerbating dry eye syndrome following the procedure.

Are You At Risk for Post-LASIK Dry Eye?

Prior to undergoing LASIK surgery, you’ll get a full eye exam. These tests may include:

  • Tear breakup time tests
  • Schirmer’s test
  • Corneal imaging
  • Tear osmolarity and inflammation
  • Meibomian gland evaluation

    A tear breakup test involves putting fluorescent dye on the surface of the eye to measure tear distribution and when the tears “break up.” For a Schirmer’s test, the doctor places a strip of paper under the eyelids to monitor tear production.

    Corneal imaging uses non-invasive devices to assess the cornea and tear film without actual contact with the eye. The tear osmolarity and inflammation tests collect tears from the inside of the bottom eyelid to test protein levels that can signal a higher level of salt content and risk of inflammation in the tears.

    What Increases the Risk of Developing Dry Eye?

    • Aging
    • Menopause
    • Medications, including antihistamines
    • Autoimmune diseases
    • Hot, windy or dry conditions and climates
    • Pollution or poor quality air

    Older patients, particularly post-menopausal women, and those suffering from autoimmune conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome, are more likely to have dry eye symptoms following the procedure. Those taking allergy medication and living in hot, dry climates should also take precautions.

    How to Prevent Dry Eye Caused by LASIK Surgery

    Your eye doctor may recommend the following for patients who are at high risk of developing dry eye syndrome after LASIK surgery as well as those who have pre-existing symptoms:

    • Punctal plugs
    • Omega-3 fatty acids
    • Lubricating eye drops
    • Prescription medication
    • In-office treatments

    Punctal plugs reduce eye moisture loss by blocking tear drainage tunnels. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements and lubricating eye drops can stimulate moisture in the eye before the procedure. Your eye doctor may prescribe eye drops or use a range of effective in-office dry eye treatments.

    Schedule your appointment to assess your risk of dry and to discuss any questions you may have regarding LASIK and dry eye syndrome.

    Our practice serves patients from Charlotte, Steele Creek, Lake Wylie, and Fort Mill, North Carolina and surrounding communities.

     

    Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Angela Bergin

    Q: What Are Some Natural Remedies for Dry Eye Syndrome?

    • A: Consuming foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty fish and flaxseeds can stimulate the oils that are essential for tear quality. Warm compresses, gland expression and eye massage can often relieve clogged glands in the eyelids and provide relief. Maintaining eyelid hygiene and wearing protective sunglasses can also reduce symptoms.

    Q: What Are the Most Common Dry Eye Symptoms?

    • A: Along with dry eyes, some of the symptoms of dry eye syndrome may include redness, an itchy and burning feeling, stringy mucus, grittiness and excessive eye-watering.

    Request A Dry Eye Appointment
    Think You Have Dry Eye? Call 980-319-1870