The Difference Between Dry Eye and Allergies

Posted by Harvard Sylvan, OD on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The two most commonly experienced eye related problems (not including needing glasses or contact lenses) are dry eyes and ocular allergies. Although some symptoms are similar, there are distinct differences between the two eye conditions. In fact, dry eye and ocular allergy can occur simultaneously. If you are a contact lens wearer, both dry eye and allergies can make wearing contact lenses more difficult.

Dry Eye

Tears are not made of just water. There are numerous components to tears, but think of them simply as having three layers – mucin, water and lipids. A dry eye situation occurs when either too little water/mucin is produced, or if too little lipid is produced. The lipid layer is the outer layer of the tears and its primary role is to prevent the tears from evaporating or spilling over the lid margins. The lipid layer is produced by glands on the edge of the lids called meibomian glands. The majority of dry eye is caused by a decrease in this lipid layer. Certain medical conditions can also cause dry eye. The most common symptoms include burning, a sandy, gritty feeling, redness and sometimes reflex tearing.

Allergies

While eye allergies can also cause redness and tearing, the main symptom is itching. An ocular allergy is caused by sensitivity to a substance that is not usually harmful. When the allergen interacts with cells called mast cells, a substance called histamine is released which causes itching, redness, and swelling. Most allergies are due to environmental factors like pollen, cat dander, dust mites, etc. There are also more serious ocular allergies that require medical intervention.

Treatment

Treatment is different for dry eye and ocular allergies. Dry eye treatment includes treating the meibomian glands, the underlying inflammation, and using tear lubricants. The treatment for ocular allergy includes using antihistamine/mast cell stabilizers (to prevent the release of histamine from the mast cells), artificial lubricants, cool compresses and avoidance of the allergen (if possible).

For contact lens wearers, your doctor may choose a contact lens with a material that is more resistant to drying out like CooperVision’s Proclear lenses. For allergy sufferers, wearing a 1 day disposable lens will give the best chance for successful lens wear. CooperVision’s Proclear 1 Day and Proclear 1 Day Multifocal lenses provide the best option as they are resistant to drying out and get replaced each day.

Many people use over- the- counter products to self- treat dry eye and ocular allergy problems. It is estimated that the cost of doing that exceeds the cost of prescription products which are more effective. If you feel that you have dry eye or ocular allergies, see your eye doctor for a complete evaluation and recommendations for the best treatment options.

Common Issues for Aging Eyes

Posted by CooperVision on Friday, June 15, 2012

Patients will notice significant changes that happen to their bodies as they age. Eyes are no exception. Aging eyes may mean a higher risk for developing age-related eye diseases and conditions such as age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, eye disease from diabetes, glaucoma, low vision and dry eye. While a lot of these eye conditions don’t always have early symptoms and warning signs, a dilated eye exam can help catch the early warning signs of these conditions. Here is a helpful list of conditions and descriptions to discuss at your next visit with an eye care practitioner:

  • Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD):is a condition that slowly destroys the macula , the part of the eye that provides sharp, central vision needed for seeing objects clearly. It typically occurs in patients who are 50 years of age or older, but some risk factors for AMD include smoking, race, and family history. AMD is a gradual and painless loss of vision. Since AMD does not have symptoms in its early stages, it is important to get your eyes checked by an eye care professional
  • Cataracts:A cataract is when the lens of the eye becomes cloudy. It typically occurs in aging patients, but cataracts can occur in patients after an eye trauma, eye surgery, or even exposure to some types of radiation. Some risk factors are diabetes, smoking, and prolonged exposure to the sun. Make sure to have an eye exam by an eye care professional if you have symptoms like cloudy or blurry vision, colors look dull, double vision, glare, or poor night vision.
  • Diabetic Eye Disease:This is vision loss that occurs as a complication of diabetes. It has no symptoms, so it is essential that diabetic patients have a dilated eye exam yearly in order to find and treat the disease before there is vision loss.
  • Glaucoma: Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye's optic nerve and can cause vision loss and blindness. It is one of the main causes of blindness in the United States. However, with early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.
  • Dry Eye: Dry eye is typically related to an insufficiency in tear film. Tear film is a mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, and electrolytes . Tear film helps the eye stay hydrated, maintain a smooth and clear surface, and helps to prevent infections. When a patient either has decreased amounts of tear volume, or an increase in tear evaporation, that patient will suffer from dry eye. Some of the most common complaints of patients suffering from dry eye are: stinging, burning, grittiness, the feeling of something in the eye, and blurry vision. Aging patients are at risk to suffer from dry eye, so make sure to talk to an eye care professional if you suffer from symptoms of dry eye.
  • Low Vision:Low vision is a term that is used for patients that have visual acuities ranging from 20/70 or lower and can’t be fully corrected with glasses, contacts, or surgery. It is a condition that is caused by a variety of diseases such as AMD, cataracts, diabetes, and glaucoma.
  • For more information on conditions and diseases that affect aging eyes, make sure to talk to your eye care professional.

Dry Eyes and Menopause

Posted by CooperVision on Thursday, June 7, 2012

Older women may not know, but dry eyes are a condition commonly associated with menopause. In fact, according to the Society of Women’s Health Research, 62% of women have dry eye symptoms but only 16% of them knew that it may be linked to menopause.

While the cause of dry eyes in menopausal women is not yet known, some theories are that menopausal women have a decrease in certain hormones that help with tear production, or menopausal women experience a disruption of chemical signals that maintain a healthy tear film. Whatever the cause may be, dry eyes can affect a patient’s quality of life.

Some symptoms of dry eye are irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable, or red eyes; a burning sensation, foreign body sensation in your eyes, and blurred vision. Excessive dry eyes may damage eye tissue, scar corneas, and impair vision. Dry eye symptoms tend to be worse at the end of the day; after a long time reading, or looking at a computer screen.

Patients with dry eyes don’t need suffer in silence. There are treatments available to patients to help alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes. An eye care practitioner can recommend a variety of remedies. Some remedies include eye drops, dietary supplements of omega-3 fatty acids, or a combination of remedies.

For patients interested in wearing contact lenses, an eye care practitioner may be able to direct dry eye patients to a contact lens that suits their special needs. Proclear lenses such as Proclear 1 day multifocal contact lenses are the only contact lenses on the market to carry the FDA-approved labeling statement, ‘May provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear.’

Make sure to see an eye care practitioner if you want to learn more about dry eyes and menopause.

Women’s Eye Health and Safety Month

Posted by CooperVision on Thursday, April 12, 2012
April is Women’s Eye Health and Safety month.More women suffer from visual impairments than men. Women are more susceptible to eye health issues because they tend to live longer than men. Women are also affected by hormonal factors, according to the National Eye Institute. The NEI states that of the 3.6 million Americans age 40 and older who suffer from visual impairment, including blindness, 2.3 million are women. Some other risk factors for visual impairment in women are age, smoking, poor nutrition, obesity. How can women ensure that they have optimal eye health? Here are some tips:
  • See An Eye Care Practitioner
  • Women should make regular eye exams a part of their health routine. Prevent Blindess America recommends everyone receive a comprehensive eye exam by age 40, if not earlier, and follow up care as recommended by an eye care practitioner. You can locate an eye care practitioner near you with CooperVision’s Find A Practitioner tool.
  • Learn More About Dry Eye
  • According to the National Women’s Health Resource Center, dry eye affects an estimated 3.2 million American women and 1.6 million American men over age 50. Hispanic and Asian women are more likely to be affected by symptoms of dry eye syndrome. If you are a woman who suffers from dry eye, make sure to ask your eye care practitioner about CooperVision’s Proclear lenses . They are the only contacts with FDA clearance for the claim: "may provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear."
  • Eat For Eye Health
  • Women should eat a diet that is rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids to prevent vision loss from eye disease. For more information on eye health, make sure to visit our Facebook Timeline and follow us @CooperVision on Twitter.

Dry Eye and Contact Lenses

Posted by CooperVision on Friday, March 2, 2012

A common complaint among contact lens users is that their eyes are dry. It may be a reason that some eye care patients avoid wearing contacts at all. In fact, recent studies have shown that up to 52.7% of contact lens wearers suffer from dry eye . However, eye care patients should know there are options out there to help improve the discomfort of dry eye.

Dry eye is typically related to an insufficiency in tear film. Tear film is a mixture of water, fatty oils, proteins, and electrolytes . Tear film helps the eye stay hydrated, maintain a smooth and clear surface, and helps to prevent infections. When a patient either has decreased amounts of tear volume, or an increase in tear evaporation, that patient will suffer from dry eye. Some of the most common complaints of patients suffering from dry eye are: stinging, burning, grittiness, the feeling of something in the eye, and blurry vision.

Patients can work with their eye care practitioner to find a dry eye solution that works for them. The first step is to make an appointment with an eye care practitioner and discuss these complaints. Some patients worry that bringing up dry eye issues will mean that they will have to give up wearing contact lenses, but an eye care practitioner may be able to recommend contact lenses and a regimen that can keep patients looking and feeling their best.

An eye care practitioner may be able to direct dry eye patients to a contact lens that suits their needs. According to All About Vision , “Some brands have been found to be particularly useful contact lenses for dry eyes. Proclear lenses (CooperVision, Inc.), for example, are the only contact lenses on the market to carry the FDA-approved labeling statement, ‘May provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear.’” While there are many ways to address dry eye, patients can talk to their eye care practitioner about what dry eye solution is best for them.

For more information about CooperVision’s Proclear products, please visit our product page .

Experiencing Dry Eye Symptoms this winter?

Posted by CooperVision on Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dry eye is a condition in which one’s eyes do not produce enough tears, or produce tears which do not have the proper chemical composition.  Symptoms of dry eye may include irritated, scratchy, dry, uncomfortable, or red eyes; a burning sensation or feeling of something foreign in your eyes; and blurred vision. Excessive dry eyes may damage eye tissue, scar your cornea (the front covering of your eyes) and impair vision, and make wearing contact lenses difficult1.

Did you know that CooperVision’s Proclear 1 Day Lenses may bring comfort to contact wearers with Dry Eye Symdrome?

CooperVIsion’s Proclear 1 Day lenses are Proclear 1 Day lenses are the only daily disposable contact lenses with a FDA clearance for the claim: "may provide improved comfort for contact lens wearers who experience mild discomfort or symptoms relating to dryness during lens wear."²

If you think you may be experiencing dry eye symptoms, contact your eye care practitioner today! Be sure to mention our Proclear 1 day lenses for some potential comfort from your Dry Eye Syndrome.  Click here to find an eye care practitioner near you.

1Reference: AOA. http://www.aoa.org/x4717.xml#1
²Reference: CooperVision.

About On Eye

On Eye is the contact lens blog from CooperVision. On this site, you will find insights about fitting, technology, and the business of contact lenses. The On Eye blog is designed to meet the needs of both Eye Care Practitioners and consumers. ECP and medical professional-specific portions of the blog will be password protected in order to protect and reserve the privacy of the profession. To read more about our terms of use, please see the Legal tab.

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