Dry Eyes. Is it time for a prescription strength eye drop?
Your eyes feeling like their making snow angels in the sand? There are over 25 million people in the United States that suffer from dry eye symptoms at this exact moment. The symptoms really vary between people, but in general there's: gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes, red eyes, itchy eyes, burning eyes and fluctuating vision.
Dry eyes can be one of the most frustrating conditions to have. You can't wear makeup comfortably. Your eyes look red constantly so your boss thinks you smoke your breakfast (not!). And you've tried every single eye drop at Walgreens and still no relief. WTF? Here's 3 solid indications that you should consider a prescription strength eye drop for dry eyes.
#1 You're an OTC expert
When it comes to available over the counter artificial tears, you're more well versed than the pharmacist. You've used artificial tears for over 1 year 2-4 times a day and your eyes are still feeling dry. You've also tried all the brands and know the difference between 'preservative free' and 'gel drops.'
#2 You travel on an airplane for work
Never have to pay for a plane ticket ever again because you've racked up so many frequent flier miles? Air travel is sooooooo very hard on the eyes. The air is just so dry. Imagine staring into a fan for 30 minutes with your eyes open. Your tears are supposed to wet and protect your eyeballs, but on an airplane – they just evaporate. Poof!
#3 Your contact lenses are more uncomfortable
Can't explain why your contact lenses are more and more uncomfortable as compared to the previous year? Most of my patients immediately point the blame finger at their contact lenses. Nowadays, contact lens technology is so good that blaming them isn't necessarily correct. What if I were to tell you that it's not your contact lens that's dry, but it's your eyeball that's to blame?
So what now?
Here's where your eye doctor will come in. There's a really cool test to actually count how many tears you have. It's call the TBUT: Tear Break Up Time test. It's scored on a scale of 1-10. 10 is perfect. 1 gets you a big, huge sad face. I use this test everyday to measure the severity of the dry eye and hence how long I will have the patient using Restasis - a prescription strength artificial tear that helps you make more tears. Patients usually fit into 3 categories: mild, moderate and severe which also helps to determine the duration of the prescription.
Mild dry eye: Restasis 1-2 drops twice a day for 6 months then discontinue.
Moderate: 1-2 drops twice a day for 12 months then reassess.
Severe: 2 drops twice a day for 24+ months then reassess.
So if you are an OTC expert, fly for a living or your contacts feel uncomfortable – ask your eye doc for a TBUT test and see what you score. Whatever the answer, it's fixable with some love and prescription eyedrops.
Love and healthy eyes,