This blog post could alternatively be named “How to make your optometrist REALLY REALLY mad”. I had an emergency patient yesterday who had a bloody looking eye after having her makeup done for a family wedding. The makeup artist applied fake eyelashes onto my patients lashes and instead of pre-trimming them before application, she trimmed them with a scissor once the lashes were already glued on. It seems that somehow the scissors made some kind of contact with my patients eye ??!! which immediately caused some discomfort as well as popping some surface blood vessels. My patient had a sore ugly eye which aside from causing her some mild pain for the duration of the wedding will also require some heavy-duty Photoshopping skills by the photographer. I am not a fan of fake eyelashes as I have had many patients come to me for treatment after developing an allergy to the glue that bonds the fake lashes to the real lashes. Other common mishaps involving false lashes include the possibility of bacteria getting trapped between the fake and real lashes causing infection, as well as corneal damage from fake lashes or glue falling into the eye. And of course there is always the danger of a “whoopsie” on the part of the makeup artist and having a scissor end up waaaaay too close to your eyeball. My advice for long lashes? Apply a mascara primer first and two coats of mascara – your eyes and your eye doctor will thank you.
As a dry eye patient myself I empathize with my fellow dry eye sufferers. For many of us, dry eye is a chronic condition that waxes and wanes for myriads of reasons. Dry eye sounds innocuous but anyone who has experienced it knows it can severely affect the ability to see both clearly and comfortably. Dry eye is a condition in which a person does not have enough “quality” tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. I give the example of driving with a dirty windshield – in order to see clearly to drive you need the wipers and the washer fluid in tandem to make the window clear and allow you to see well. So too if the tears and the eyelids are not working well together the vision will be impaired – like driving with a filthy windshield.
One reason for having dry eye is inadequate production of tears. This can be caused by age, gender (females), medications (such as antihistamines) and certain medical conditions. A dry and windy climate will also contribute to dry eye. Winter in New Jersey is tough on dry eye – the low humidity combined with artificial heating systems, especially the forced air types, wreak havoc on an already dry eye. Another reason for dry eye can be poor quality tears. I will address this more in length in another blog.
So how do we treat dry eye once it is diagnosed? Treatments are tailored specifically for each patient depending on the underlying cause for the dry eye. Ocular lubricants (fancy term for eye drops) are the mainstay of treatment and there are both over the counter and prescription options. If blepharitis (inflamed and irritated eyelids) is the culprit then lid hygiene is initiated as well.
In future blogs we will talk about more specific dry eye situations such as dry eye in contact lens wearers, dry eye in patients with underlying autoimmune diseases, and even dry eye in children.