What is Dry Eyes?
Dry Eye is a group of conditions with a variety of causes that affects millions of people. It may result when the eyes produce too little tear fluid, or when tears evaporate from the surface of the eye too rapidly.
If you experience one or any combination of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from a medical condition known as Dry Eye:
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Causes of dry eye
In all these dry-eye conditions the normal tear fluid loses water and becomes more concentrated. As a result of this the tears pull water out of the surface of the eye, causing the dry-eye symptoms. These usually worsen as the day goes on.
Ironically, the tear producing glands sometimes react to the dry, scratchy feeling by watering more than ever. But these “reflex tears" do not relieve the dryness as they lack some of the natural components that are essential to lubricate the cornea properly.
Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome
At Jonathan Partridge Optometrists we may use a combination of several methods to determine whether you have Dry Eye.
A few drops containing dye in each eye will help your optometrist check for any dry spots or areas where the cornea has become damaged by dehydration. Using a microscope he can evaluate both the quality and the quantity of your tears.
This simple, painless test assesses tear volume. By placing the tip of a specially treated strip of paper in the lower lid of your eye, your Optometrist is able to measure the amount of tears your eye produces in a given period.
There are a variety of treatments that can alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes.
In some case it is necessary to actually clean the eyelid margins, possibly morning and night. We will suggest using some ready prepared wipes or may suggest you making up your own solution every morning.
For patients with less severe dry eye symptoms, artificial tears can often offer immediate relief.
These may be in the form of liquid drops such as Hypromellose or as a gel type liquid such as Viscotears. Many people prefer the gel type products as they give relief for longer periods of time.
In some instances it may be necessary to use a very viscous type product such as Lacrilube, as this causes blurring of the vision it is only recommended for night time use.
Long-term Relief with Punctal Plugs
For some patients with more severe cases of dry eye who have not benefited from using artificial tears it may be necessary to close their tear ducts temporarily or in some cases permanently.
This long-term solution allows patients to use their own natural tears to treat their condition.
A simple non-surgical procedure allows the Optometrist to insert a tiny plug (Dissolvable or non~ dissolvable) into your tear drainage ducts (Puncta). Here they act as a dam allowing your own tears to build up on the surface of your eye.
There are a number of reasons why punctal plugs have become the most popular method of treating dry eye. They have a very high rate of success; and the optometrist can insert them easily and painlessly. If too much tearing is produced then they can easily be removed.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that is the leading cause of vision loss in our senior population. This disease impairs central vision. People who are affected by AMD have problems reading, driving and performing activities that require clear central vision. Currently, there are no treatments for the majority of people who are affected. Macular degeneration causes damage to the macula of the eye. The macula is a small area at the back of the eye that allows us to see fine details clearly. Macular degeneration makes close work like threading a needle or reading a book difficult or impossible. When the macula doesn’t function correctly, we experience bluntness or darkness in the centre of our vision. Although macular degeneration reduces vision in the central part of the retina, it does not affect peripheral vision. For example, you could see a clock but not be able to tell what time it is. Macular degeneration alone does not result in total blindness. Most people continue to have some useful vision and are able to live independently.
There are two types of macular degeneration:
1. The Dry Type - This is the most common form. In this type of macula degeneration, the delicate tissues of the macula become thinned and slowly lose function.See Video
2. The Wet Type - This is less common, but is typically more damaging. The wet type of macula degeneration is caused by the growth of abnormal blood vessels behind the macula. The abnormal blood vessels tend to haemorrhage or leak, resulting in the formation of scar tissue. In some instances, the dry stage of macula degeneration can turn into the wet stage.See Video
Will I go blind ?
No, it is only the very central area that becomes affected so you still maintain your peripheral vision, which enables you to get about. Tasks like reading and television can often be improved with low visual aids and Jonathan conducts clinics to provide these, funded by the Welsh Government.
Eye Health Supplements
Food supplements containing key ingredients, known to help maintain eye health, can be beneficial in helping prevent degeneration.