Skip to main content
Temecula Valley Optometry
Home »

Dry Eye

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.