Friday, August 20, 2010

What are the causes of dry eyes?

Problematic dry eyes are one of the most common problems reported to eye doctors. Dry eyes result from either a decrease in the amount of tear production, or the quality or composition of the tears produced.

Common causes may include advancing age, allergies, poor diet, heating/colling environmental circumstances, hormonal changes, health status such as diabetes, arthritis, lupus, thyroid dysfunction, chemotherapy or radiation treatments and acne, rosacea, contact lens use, computer use, and patients that have a history of LASIK surgery.

In addition certain medications can contribute to dry eye symptoms such as antidepressants, antihistamines, decongestants, acne treatments, diuretics and some blood pressure medications.

Common symptoms of dry eyes may include blurred or variable vision, sensitivity to light, dryness, burning, stinging, gritty or foreign body sensations. Occasionally, the dry eye patient may experience a paradoxical excess or "reflex" tearing caused by the underlying eye surface irritation.

Treatment of this condition may include artificial tears, gels and/or lubricating ointments at bedtime, daily eyelid hygiene scrub procedures, a prescribed medication regimen, omega-3 nutritional supplements (fish and flaxseed oil), and punctal (tear drainage) occlusion of the eyelid to retain moisture.

As you can see the causes and possible treatments are complex. Your eye doctor can formulate and individual treatment plan for you based on severity and known causes. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Wear sunglasses outside to reduce aggravating glare and block the drying wind effect
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids
  • Bedroom - add a humidifier, turn off fans!
  • Aim vents in cars away from your face
  • Take frequent "blink breaks" when using a computer
  • If taking hormone replacement therapy be sure your doctor knows about your tear problem

Use over-the-counter lubricants such as SYSTANE ULTRA Lubricant Eye drops as needed for extra relief
  • Supplements such as flaxseed oil and omega-3 could provide extra benefits
  • Avoid excessive caffeine
  • Smoking aggravates this problem
  • Environmental factors can add to your discomfort (smoke, fumes, dust)
  • Airline travel can increase symptoms
  • Taking antihistamines for allergy can increase symptoms

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How Our Electronic Medical Records Help You

Although the advantages to using electronic medical records (EMR) are numerous to our doctors staff, there are also many positive benefits for you, our patient, as well.

Since our receptionists have your medical records at their fingertips when you call, we get an instant view of your insurance information, which one of the doctors you see, when you were last seen in our office and much more. This also eliminates filling out registration forms and personal medical history. We have a complete list of your medications, surgeries, referring physician and other pertinent information needed to provide you excellent patient care.

During the course of your examination, the doctor and his assistant are able to document every level of the exam in order to expedite a clean and prompt insurance claim. He is able to review and compare diagnostic tests and give the results to you immediately. We can instantly send a glasses prescription to our Optical department so that our opticians can help you with frame and lens selection. We are now able to send prescriptions for medications directly to the pharmacy so that your order will be ready for you when you arrive.

A letter to your primary or secondary care physician is ready to be sent sometimes before you leave the office, allowing for up to date and consistent communications between all your health care providers.

All of us are very pleased with our EMR system, and as the administrator of Doctors Eye Institute, I am very impressed with our staff’s ease and enthusiasm in implementing and using the system from day one – even the doctors. I’m certain that we will continue to upgrade and change (Medicare is requiring EMR and Electronic prescribing in all medical offices by 2012). Our goal is to care for you in the most effective and satisfying manner and we feel that our efforts to computerize our office will help us achieve this goal.

- Dorothy Jett, Practice Administrator, COE

Things You May Not Know About Eye Exams

During routine eye exams we sometimes find some surprises in patients who have indicated no symptoms. The most common surprise is the detection of glaucoma. Since it can cause vision loss if not detected and treated early, we make sure to look for this during each exam.

Since the eye is the only place in the body where we can literally see blood vessels, we can usually tell if someone has had high blood pressure for long periods of time. Occasionally the patient will report no blood pressure problems. We advise them to double check with their primary care doctor, just to make sure.

As much as most people dislike being dilated, it truly does give doctor the best view available of your peripheral retina. While some practices take a photograph instead of dilating, I would rather see the retina with my own eyes rather than interpret a picture. A careful peripheral dilated exam, can reveal retinal holes, tears, and hemorrhaging. All of these problems are referred to a retinal specialist and often require minor surgery. When problems are caught early they can be stopped before there is a need for major surgery.

Furthermore, when the eye is dilated it is easy to see small hemorrhages associated with diabetes even though the patient has no symptoms.

Eye exams have even detected things like thyroid problems, Multiple Sclerosis and Myasthenia Gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease leading to fluctuating degrees of muscle weakness and fatiguability.

A comprehensive eye exam is important to securing your best vision health. If it's been a while, give us a call and set up an appointment today.

Christopher Stroud, O.D.