Screening for dry eye syndrome is an important part of the LASIK evaluation process at our Albany, Beaverton, Salem and Bend, Oregon offices.
FEMALE VOICE: Years of experience have let us understand the importance of dry eye diagnosis and treatment not only after your LASIK surgery procedure, but also preoperatively. With over 10 million Americans suffering from dry eye syndrome, also known as dysfunctional tear syndrome, it's become a key part of the preoperative evaluation before your LASIK procedure. Although many women of all ages can be afflicted with dry eye syndrome, the occurrence does tend to increase with age and with the female population.
There are other things that can also affect dry eye syndrome, such as systemic medications, systemic health conditions and also environmental conditions such as computer use or being outdoors. So the preoperative eye evaluation with your eye care practitioner is going to include a history of your background as well as measurement of the quantity of the tear film that you're making, which can be measured with Schirmer's or a Zone Quick phenol red thread test.
Also the quality of your tears needs to be measured. Dyes will be inserted into the eye to evaluate the tear volume and the tear evaporation rate. Also we'll take a look at the health of the cornea and the anterior part of the eye as well as the lid margins and these are all going to be very important parts of the evaluation.
There are a lot of treatments available for dry eye as well. Such treatments include artificial tears, which can provide temporary relief of the dry eye. There are preserved tears, nonpreservative as well as tears with disappearing preservatives are available. For our LASIK patients, we recommend the preservative-free artificial tears only [break] operatively four times a day in most patients, depending on the severity or the level of the suspicion of dry eye. But postoperatively also, these drops need to be used with more frequency and that will be discussed with your doctor when you come in for surgery.
Other treatments include prescription medications, such as Restasis, which can be used twice a day, morning and night to increase the tear volume and also to increase the overall health of the eye by decreasing inflammation. Punctal plugs are another available option and these are almost like a stopper in a sink. You have tears that are created by the gland underneath your lower eyelid. These tears wash over the surface of the eye and they are removed from the eye through two small drain openings towards your nose on the upper and lower lid. We use a small piece of temporary collagen or we can use a permanent method to plug these drains and therefore, that increases the tear volume in your eye and helps the eye to stay hydrated and healthy.
We also look at nutritional means of helping with the dry eye, such as oral essential fatty acids that are found in foods such as fish. You can also get them from fish oil or flaxseed oil and these things are also going to help to boost the nutrition for your body and also therefore increase the health of the eye and of the tear thumb.