Grittiness, blurred vision, stinging, sore eyelids and even watering eyes can be symptoms of ‘dry eye’.
At one extreme is keratoconjunctivitis sicca, a serious medical condition which will almost certainly require the referral to an ophthalmologist, but most people suffering discomfort have what is often called marginal dry eye. This can be linked with age, gender, health and contact lens wear, and can be affected by your occupation, and the environment in which you live and work.
Changes in work environments and lifestyles seem to be making dry eye symptoms more common.
Improved research and new treatments arriving in recent years have enabled us to investigate and manage dry eye in a much more satisfactory and successful way.
If you are suffering from problems that you feel may be related to dry eye, we would recommend that you attend one of our dry eye clinics.
The Dry Eye Clinic Appointment:
When you make the appointment you will be sent a questionnaire, which helps us to assess the degree of dry eye, and gives us clues as to the type and pattern of your symptoms.
If you wear contact lenses, please leave them out for the appointment, but bring them with you, as we may need to assess the fitting. If you feel your dryness may be directly related to contact lens wear, we would advise that you see your contact lens practitioner for a full checkup before attending the dry eye clinic.
As many symptoms that may be linked with dry eye can be brought on by other eye problems, our dry eye clinic should always follow a full eye examination (within the last year at least).
Your dry eye clinic appointment will be one hour, and we will perform a number of tests to determine the causes of your dry eye, and suggest possible solutions for the management of your dry eye condition.
We will discuss the analysis of your questionnaire, and take a detailed record of your history and symptoms, your general health, and discuss lifestyle and occupational factors.
The tests usually start with a computerised assessment of the tear film using a video topographical scanning instrument. This new technology will also give us some numerical parameters that we can re-assess at follow up visits to measure your progress, and allows us to study the tear behaviour without anything touching the eye or tear film.
We will then move on to a direct visual assessment of the tear film, the front surface of your eyes, lids and eyelashes using a slit lamp biomicroscope and various dyes that allow to determine the type and severity of the condition, and from this we can determine the most appropriate system of management. The dyes we use wash away in your tears quite quickly, but can stain contact lenses which is why we advise you to attend wearing your spectacles, if you need them.
We will then give you comprehensive advice about lifestyle changes and treatments that will allow you to manage your dry eye condition with the minimum of inconvenience, and cost. We will also send you a written report of our findings and recommendations.
Treatment of Dry Eye:
If you are looking for instant relief from your dry eyes, you are probably going to be disappointed. We feel it is better to look upon the process as management of the condition, rather than looking for a fast cure. Often the remedies are quite simple, such as from changes in fluid intake and diet or attention to temperature and humidity. Warm compress using the EyeBag can be effective in some cases, or we may recommend specialised eye drops, sprays or dietary supplements. For some cases we may consider limiting the tear outflow using punctum plugs.
How many visits will I need to make?
We aim to find a satisfactory treatment regime at your first visit, though in some cases we may need to try alternatives, so we usually schedule a follow up appointment after three to six months, depending on the condition. At this visit we can repeat the computerised tear film assessment and measure the progress.
Are treatments available on the NHS?
We cannot prescribe any of the treatments that we use via the NHS. Some dry eye treatments are available via your GP, but the availability varies depending on your health authority, and sadly the treatments on offer are generally older and less effective than the latest developments.
How does it work if I am referred by another Optometrist?
If you have had a comprehensive eye examination at one of our branches within the previous twelve months then it is unlikely that we will have to repeat this. We accept referrals from other optometrists, but would recommend a full eye examination before attending the dry eye clinic if your last examination was more than twelve months ago, or if you are experiencing other symptoms.
How much does it cost?
The fee is £95. Follow up appointments are £45 within twelve months.
Does it hurt?
No, the worst thing we’re likely to do to you is put some eyedrops or tear stains into your eye, which could sting a little, and none of the drops we use will affect your vision. The use of stains means that we do not normally recommend wearing contact lenses on the day of the assessment.
How do I book in?
Contact our Banbury branch on 01295 262501 or firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for a Dry Eye Clinic appointment. We will send you a questionnaire by post or email. Please complete this and send back, or bring in on the day of your appointment.
On the day of your appointment you will need:
- Your completed questionnaire.
- If you wear contact lenses, bring them with you, but do not wear them on the day.
- Bring your spectacles, if worn.
- A full list of any medication you are taking.
- A list of other products you may be using in or near your eyes, e.g. Contact lens solutions or hayfever treatments
- Wear any eye makeup as you would normally, and bring it with you, in case it needs “repair” afterwards.