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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Dry Eye Syndrome
Posted by: aggie
Date: September 25, 2000 7:54 PM

I am 39 years old and have had burning, painful, sore eyes for over 16 years (began at age 23). I've seen opthamologists/specialists, but have been unable to get any treatment or relief. The severity of my symptoms has increased dramatically this year, so I visited another eye specialist three months ago and he diagnosed me with dry eye syndrome. Other doctors in the past had suggested this may be the problem as well. He was perplexed by the relatively calm appearance of my eyes as I explained that the burning and pain is severe, so severe, in fact, that my work day has gone from a typical 12 hours to less than 4 hours in the last year. I then followed a regimen of warm compresses and tear substitutes for several months with no improvement. A month ago, I began acupuncture treatments weekly accompanied by herbal medicines. I had a slight improvement in my right eye, but it has lapsed back to the normal discomfort. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

RE: Dry Eye Syndrome
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, MD
Date: September 26, 2000 5:07 AM

Dry eye syndrome sounds likely. If this is the problem, you will have bloodshot, photophobic eyes, especially on awakening. Warm compresses at bedtime and artificial tears are standard treatment. Nighttime treatment is of ultimate importance as the lacrimal glands often shut down rather completely at night. You can use an alarm to wake yourself every couple hours, or simply drink at lot of water through the night which will help your eyes and well as wake you to urinate at which time you can also use saline eye drops. There are various gels which are sold which you can use at bedtime. Also check out a product called HydroEye which replaces natural oils which are involved in eye lubrication. Also, consider the possibility that you do not close your eyes completely at night. If this is the case, wearing a mask over your eyes (those things people wear on airplanes) at night can help. There is also a procedure ophthalmologists do in which the tear duct is blocked - a reversible tear duct block made of silicone. Usually the lower first and if this helps, then the ducts in the upper eye lids as well. If this is helpful you can consider cauterization of the ducts, lower, or lower and upper - this produces a permanent blockage of your teat ducts. Ask your ophthalmologists about it. Eventually, perhaps, genetic research will enable us to rejuvenate the lacrimal and Meibomian glands to cure the dry eye syndrome.



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