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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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center 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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center 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 Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

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.

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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center in Temecula, 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. Winkelstein

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

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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center. Our dedicated eye doctors will get to the bottom of your dry eye and provide effective, lasting treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center today!

What’s The Link Between Dry Eye And Accutane (Acne Medication)

What’s The Link Between Dry Eye And Accutane 640×350Accutane, generically called isotretinoin, is an oral medication that is widely prescribed to treat severe acne that hasn’t responded to other treatments.

Although this drug often does a great job of reducing acne, it has several potential side effects that can affect many bodily systems, including the eyes.

Isotretinoin and Dry Eyes

Isotretinoin works by decreasing the size of the oil glands that secrete oil onto the skin. By reducing the production of the facial oils, the pores become less clogged and the amount of acne diminishes.

As the medication travels through the bloodstream, it also penetrates the eyelids’ meibomian glands, which produce the oil for tears.

These meibomian glands, which line the inner portion of the eyelids, play an important role in keeping the eyes hydrated and healthy by secreting oil to stabilize the tear film. When Accutane suppresses their function, the oil layer in the tear is inadequate, allowing excessive tear evaporation. As a result, the eyes dry out.

A 2012 study published in JAMA Dermatology analyzed the ocular effects of isotretinoin and concluded that taking it places patients at a significantly higher risk of experiencing a range of adverse ocular effects.

Common ocular conditions that were associated with this acne medication were dry eye syndrome, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, photosensitivity, contact lens intolerance and papilledema.

The researchers found that the ocular conditions resulted from changes to the cornea, eyelids, retina and meibomian glands. Additionally, the drug was found in the tear film and caused increased ocular irritation.

The good news is that these effects are often temporary, and resolve within a few months after completing treatment. One study, published in Optometry and Vision Science (2015), however, found that 1% of patients developed permanent meibomian gland dysfunction after taking isotretinoin.

How a Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

Some dermatologists will refer their patients to an optometrist for a dry eye evaluation before prescribing isotretinoin to treat acne. If the patient already has signs of ocular surface disease or is taking other medications that interfere with tear production, the doctor may decide against prescribing isotretinoin.

We can help by thoroughly assessing your ocular condition to help your dermatologist determine the best acne treatment for you, and by managing your dry eye symptoms if they arise.

If you or a loved one is currently taking or has taken isotretinoin and is experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome like eye irritation or burning eyes, we can offer long-lasting solutions.

To schedule your dry eye consultation or learn more about our services, call Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center in Temecula today.

Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center serves dry eye patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

Q: Should I use lubricating eye drops while taking acne medication like isotretinoin?

  • A: Lubricating eye drops may be an appropriate treatment for medication-induced dry eye syndrome However always consult with your optometrist before purchasing drops from the drugstore. The huge range of choices in your local pharmacy can be hard to navigate alone, and not all eye drops will be right for you. We can help guide you to the best eye drops for your condition.

Q: What are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include: watery eyes, gritty eyes, burning or painful eyes, red and irritated eyes, mucus around the eyes, the inability to wear contact lenses, sensitivity to light and blurred vision. The frequency and severity of these symptoms can range greatly from patient to patient, and treatment will depend on the underlying cause of your symptoms.

Blinking Exercises for Dry Eye

Blinking Exercises 640×350Did you know that the average person spends around 7 hours a day looking at a screen? The glare and reflections from computer, smartphone, and tablet screens can reduce blink rates by as much as 60%. When we concentrate intensely we tend to blink less, which can, in turn, lead to dry eye syndrome.

Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include red and dry eyes, irritated eyes, blurred vision, painful or stinging eyes, light sensitivity and mucus around the eyes.

Blinking helps keep our eyes healthy and comfortable. With every blink, the ocular surface is cleaned of debris and lubricated, so less blinking means more irritation and dryness.

Below are a few blinking exercises to help you ensure that your eyes remain lubricated and refreshed throughout the day.

Blinking Exercises

Blinking exercises are simple to do and can be seamlessly integrated into your daily routine. These exercises should be done a few times an hour. Try alternating between the 2 exercises below.

1. Close-Pause-Pause-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  4. Repeat 5 times

2. Close-Pause-Pause-Squeeze-Open-Relax

  1. Without squeezing, gently close your eyes.
  2. Pause and keep your eyes closed for 2 seconds.
  3. While keeping your eyes closed, squeeze your eyelids together slowly and gently.
  4. Gently open your eyes and relax them.
  5. Repeat 5 times

The Importance of Fully Blinking

It’s important to fully blink to completely lubricate your eyes. If you’re only partially blinking, it can render your dry eye symptoms worse.

To find out whether you are fully blinking, just look at your eyes in the mirror. If they feel dry or appear red, or if you see a horizontal stripe of red blood vessels across your eyes, then you have been partially blinking.

If you’ve incorporated blinking exercises into your routine but are still experiencing eye irritation, you may have dry eye syndrome. We can diagnose the underlying cause of your symptoms, and offer a variety of dry eye treatments to alleviate any discomfort. Schedule an eye exam with Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center today to receive effective, long-lasting relief.

Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center serves dry eye patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

  • A: Dry eye syndrome is caused either by insufficient tears or poor tear quality. Every time you blink, you leave a thin film of tears over the surface of your eyes. This helps keep your vision clear and your eyes healthy. If your tears don’t keep the surface of your eye moist enough, you will experience dry eye symptoms. Some medical conditions, certain medications, dysfunctional glands, allergies and environmental irritants can all cause dry eye symptoms.

Q: What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

  • A: Symptoms of dry eye include irritation; a gritty, scratchy or burning sensation; blurred vision; excessive tearing; and/or a feeling of having something stuck in the eye.

What to Know About LASIK and Dry Eye

What to Know About LASIK and Dry Eye 640×350Dry eye syndrome is an uncomfortable condition that can cause eyes to become dry, itchy, red, watery and gritty. It is caused by insufficient tears or poor quality oil in the tears that prevent the eyes from being properly lubricated.

Dry eye syndrome is a common side effect of LASIK surgery, so individuals considering laser surgery for long-term vision correction should speak with their eye doctor. An assessment at Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center in Temecula can help determine your likelihood of developing dry eyes after the laser procedure and take measures to treat this condition, so you can fully enjoy your clear vision.

The Connection Between LASIK Surgery and Dry Eye

LASIK is the most commonly performed type of laser vision correction. In this procedure, a laser is used to cut a flap in the front of the eye, the cornea, which allows the eye surgeon to reshape the cornea with the laser.

One side effect of cutting this flap is that corneal nerves may be damaged. LASIK surgery can sever the most superficial nerves in the cornea, which then reduces the eye’s sensitivity to dry eye symptoms. This, in turn, may reduce the body’s tear production since the eye glands produce the essential water and oils in response to neural messages.

It is estimated that 50% of people who undergo LASIK surgery report dry eye symptoms in the following days and weeks. However, some of these 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. In both cases, treatment of dry eyes is essential for these patients

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

Testing Risk Factors for Dry Eye Before LASIK Surgery

Before LASIK surgery, patients are given 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 who take allergy medication and live in hot, dry climates should also take precautions.

Strategies 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.

It is essential to work with professionals you can trust before, during and after LASIK surgery.

Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities. Schedule your appointment for an assessment to discuss your questions about LASIK and dry eye syndrome.

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

Q: Are There Natural Treatments 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 Some 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.

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 Temecula Valley Optometry Dry Eye Center in Temecula today!

Our practice serves patients from Temecula, Murrieta, Elsinore, and Menifee, California and surrounding communities.

 

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Winkelstein

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.