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Winter Dry Eye In Maryland – Tips to Deal with the Cold

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Winter Dry Eye In Maryland – Tips to Deal with the Cold

winter and dry eye 640Oh, winter in Maryland the days are too short, our commutes on 695 are still terrible, and so many of us are now glued to a computer screen for eight-plus hours a day. Whether you’re focused on the road or on a screen, you might be noticing an increase in your dry eye symptoms. Cold winter air is dry.

Once we turn on our heaters, the air in our homes also become dry. We can help that by adding a humidifier to your workspace and to your sleep space and and that can really go a long way in adding moisture to the air to help prevent dry eye symptoms from worsening.

When you’re in the car, a little tip would be to not point the air vent directly at your face. Point it down so that you don’t have that hot air blowing right on your eyes. That’s certainly going to make for an increase in dry eye symptoms and. This may seem obvious, but we really need to remember to be conscious blinkers, especially computer users.

We need to be taking good solid breaks from our screens and it doesn’t have to be a long break. About every 20 minutes, you can look away from your screen and do five or six really hard squeezing blinks. Just shut your eyelids for a few seconds as tight as you can and then open them back up. Repeat for five or six times in a row and this will really help train your eyes to be good blinkers.

Strong blinkers can make healthy tears that can coat and protect the eye.

Certainly if you’re doing these things and you’re still experiencing symptoms then you should really just come see us because there may be an underlying dry eye issue that is exacerbated by the dry winter air. We may need to address that underlying issue to get your symptoms under control.

Watery Eyes are Dry Eye? That doesn’t make sense!

tears on faceWhen patients present to the office with a complaint of watering eyes, it’s an interesting conversation to have to explain to that person. “Well, your eyes are watering because they’re dry!”

Because they think, how could my eyes be dry? I have these tears just rolling down onto my cheek!

The problem is that your tears are composed of many layers of lipids and oils and water essentially. Often, when a patient is experiencing watering eyes, it’s because they’re deficient in the oil layer of the tear film.

They don’t have the component of their tears that keeps that tear on the eyeball. So, their tears are evaporating very quickly and the eye is trying to overcompensate by producing more and more of the water portion of the tears, but because they don’t have the oil layer in place, the tears don’t stay on the eye and they just roll right down onto the cheek.

This is really common. We see this often in a lot of dry eye patients. The treatment in this situation is to reinstate that oil layer, and when we do that, patients get a resolution of the tearing.

Patients can also experience excessive eye-watering if the system that drains the tears down into the nasolacrimal system becomes clogged. This happens occasionally as well, and that’s a relatively easy fix we do in the office. We simply flush out that nasolacrimal duct and now the tears can drain again. The patient gets relief from the excessive watering

Are Face Masks Causing Dry Eye Symptoms?

woman wearing a mask 640Face masks and social distancing have become the first line of defense in COVID-19 prevention.

While these protective measures are essential to combating the virus’ spread, eye doctors are seeing an increase in dry eye cases among people who wear masks. If you are seeking relief, contact us.

What is Mask-Associated Dry Eye (MADE)?

Mask-associated dry eye (MADE) was first described by an ophthalmologist in May 2020 based on the higher rate of dry eye he was seeing in his practice among patients who wore masks. Patients with existing dry eye reported worsening symptoms when wearing a mask.

When a face mask doesn’t fit securely, it can push air from the nose and mouth upward, onto the eyes, causing the tear film — the liquid layer that coats the eyes’ surface — to evaporate more quickly. This leads to MADE.

Dry eye leaves the eyes feeling sore, gritty, dry and irritated. Left untreated, dry eye can cause damage to the cornea.

There are many causes of dry eye, including eye and health conditions, age, gender and certain medications. Insufficient blinking when looking at a digital device or book, poor indoor air quality and pollution can all play a role. Situations that increase how quickly the tear film evaporates can quickly and significantly dry the eye’s surface, leading to more pronounced symptoms.

What Causes Dry Eye When Wearing a Mask?

Wearing a face mask significantly reduces the spread of air when breathing out from the mouth and nose. Instead of moving out, the air moves upwards towards the eyes’ surface. This forces a stream of air over the surface of the eye, causing the tears to evaporate more quickly.

This is the same reason that eyeglasses fog up when wearing a mask.

When masks are worn for long periods of time, this repeated evaporation may lead to dry spots on the eyes’ surface.

 

How to Prevent or Alleviate MADE?

Here are some simple measures to help reduce dry eye while wearing a mask:

  1. Ensure your mask fits well, and consider taping the top edge to prevent air from rising from your mouth toward your eyes.
  2. Limit your time in air-conditioned or heated environments when possible. Also, take regular breaks from digital devices.
  3. Consult your eye doctor, who will examine your eyes and prescribe the best treatment.

Having to wear a face mask to prevent COVID-19’s spread may cause dry eye, but relief is available. Contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center if you are experiencing dry eye symptoms. We will determine the underlying cause of your dry eye and offer you the best solution so you can get back to having comfortable eyes and vision.

 

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City and Randallstown, throughout Maryland.

 

What’s included in a dry eye examination at Eyesymmetry Vision Center?

eye examWhen a patient comes to the office for a dry eye examination, they can expect to see photographs and videos of their eye and talk about their eyes in ways they’ve likely never done before. We really look at the whole person and what is contributing to the dry eye disease. We start with an extensive history including any systemic conditions the patient may have, medications they’re on, their work environment, and even things like history of contact lens wear or makeup use. Many, many things contribute to dry eye disease.

We try to do a thorough evaluation of the person as a whole to figure out what is the contributing factor here. Then we do a really thorough examination of the ocular surface itself. We look at the eye specifically as it relates to tear production.

I’m looking at how fast the patient’s tears evaporate as that’s one of the biggest causes of dry eye. A patient may not be producing enough oil in their tears and that causes the tears to evaporate very quickly.

We look at that oil layer using infrared photography which is a really neat tool that we have and that the patient can actually see any damage that may have already taken place within their eyelids and is contributing to the symptoms that they’re experiencing.

From these tests, we can see if the patient has enough of all those independent layers that comprise the tear film, where does the deficiency lie, and base our treatment plan around where the deficiency is. We’re also using different different stains that go in the eye that show patterns of inflammation.

Depending on stage and calls of dry eye, we see inflammation in different parts of the eye. Sometimes that’s corneal staining, inflammation and blood vessel growth on the eyelid margin, puffy red eyelids, or red eyes in general.

We’re really just looking at the eye as a whole to identify those areas of inflammation and target treatment towards those areas specifically.

 

Why are dry eye symptoms going untreated?

man rubbing eyes 1280×853I believe so many patients are allowing their dry eye symptoms to go untreated because they’ve just accepted it as a part of their day. We’ve learned to live with it and a lot of patients have learned to manage just their symptoms with over-the-counter artificial tears. When in reality those over-the-counter drops are only treating the symptoms they’re experiencing, maybe temporary relief of the burning they get when they’re in front of their computer screens, but they aren’t doing anything to address the underlying issue and the dry eye disease that’s at play.

They might just blame their symptoms on their computer. Yes, computer usage contributes to the problem, but there are things that we can do to counteract those symptoms and counteract the progressive nature of dry eye disease. Honestly, a lot of patients might just not know what to do to treat their dry eye.

They may not know the next step to take. They might not be aware that it’s something that they can go see a doctor for specifically. They may have even seen an optometrist who just told them to use artificial tears. They may think that they’re doing all that they can do to manage their symptoms. When in fact, now we have technology and advancements that allow us to treat dry eyes on a deeper level.

How to Get Rid of Eyelash Mites

How to Get Rid of Eyelash Mites 640What if we told you that there are tiny critters living on your face? Would you believe it?

The truth is that just about every person on earth has Demodex mites living in their facial pores.

But before you run to the bathroom sink and start scrubbing your cheeks, read on to learn what these microscopic mites are, and how they can affect your eyes.

What are Demodex Mites?

Demodex mites are tiny 8-legged arachnids that make their home in the pores and hair follicles of your face. Fortunately, they’re too small to see with the naked eye, measuring only 0.4 mm long.

There are 2 types of Demodex mites: Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis. Both types can be found all over the face, but Demodex folliculorum mites tend to concentrate around the eyelash area.

Demodex mites live inside hair follicles, where they feed on dead skin cells and oily sebum that is secreted onto the hair shaft. That’s why they’re found in higher numbers around greasier areas of the body, like the eyes and nose.

The mites come out of the hair follicle at night to mate and then return in the morning. For this reason, symptoms of a Demodex infestation may be worse in the morning.

Demodex mites can be transferred from one host to another through facial skin or hair contact. They can also be introduced to a new host through shared makeup and cosmetics.

Having a small amount of Demodex mites seems to be harmless, but an overgrowth of mites — called “demodicosis” — can cause a host of symptoms affecting the eyes and other areas of the face. A Demodex infestation can also exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions like rosacea and acne.

How Can Demodex Mites Affect Your Eyes?

Too many Demodex mites can cause uncomfortable symptoms that may include:

  • Itchy or burning eyes, especially in the morning
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Crusty eyes
  • Red, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred or decreased vision
  • Falling eyelashes
  • Infected eyes

If you experience a yellowish discharge on your eyelashes mainly in the mornings, this could be a sign of a Demodex mite infestation.

Severe cases of demodicosis can lead to blepharitis — an inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis often leads to an inflammation of the cornea called keratitis, a serious condition that can lead to blindness if left untreated.

Risk Factors For Demodicosis

You’re more likely to have a Demodex mite outbreak if you:

  • Have oily skin
  • Wear makeup
  • Sleep overnight without properly removing makeup
  • Have poor personal hygiene

Some pre-existing conditions that increase the possibility of a Demodex outbreak include:

  • A weakened immune system
  • Alopecia
  • Inflammatory acne
  • Dermatitis

Your Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

The good news is that Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. can provide safe and effective treatment for your demodicosis.

Because Demodex mites are so small, they’re impossible to diagnose on your own. Only a comprehensive eye exam can determine the source of your symptoms.

Treatment for a Demodex mite infestation typically involves a medicated ointment that can prevent the mites from reproducing. In severe cases, oral medication may be prescribed. Your eye doctor may also manually clean the margins of your eyelids or recommend over-the-counter products that can help soothe irritation and promote healing.

If you suspect you have demodicosis or experience any of the symptoms listed above, contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to schedule an eye exam.

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and throughout Maryland.

 

Warm Compresses Can Relieve Dry Eye

protect your eyes 640x350What Is Dry Eye?

Our tears are made up of water and oil layers. Dry eye (also known as dry eye syndrome) occurs when the eyelids’ meibomian glands do not secrete enough natural oil into the tears. This causes the eyes to become dry, itchy, red, and painful. Environmental conditions like dry or windy air, and staring at a screen or book for a long time, can also dry out your eyes.

Here’s What To Do About It

One of the best ways to make dry, irritated eyes feel refreshed is with a warm compress. A warm compress will open the oil glands and soften oil blockages, allowing oil to flow into the tears. Wet a clean washcloth or place it in a microwave for 20 seconds. Touch it to your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot, then place the compress on your closed eyelids for a few minutes while tilting your head back or reclining. When the compress cools, reheat and repeat.

Compresses slow the evaporation of tears. Their warm moisture provides relief by stabilizing the eyes’ tear film and improving the meibomian glands’ production of oil. With your eyes now hydrated and lubricated, they can also expel bacteria more efficiently.

Certain prescription eye drops also address dry eye, and steroids can provide relief. Others provide additional lubrication. Please consult with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O., who can recommend or prescribe the best drops for your eyes.

Other home remedies include:

  • An air filter to eliminate irritants
  • A humidifier to increase moisture in the air and decrease evaporation of your tears
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated
  • Wearing sunglasses to deflect ultraviolet rays and wind that dry the eyes

Please Keep the Following in Mind:

  • Don’t make the compresses or washcloths too hot.
  • Use a different compress for each eye to prevent spreading an infection between the eyes.
  • We recommend lightly cleaning with a swab or cloth, then wetting and wiping your eyelids several times each day. Doing so can prevent bacteria from entering your eyes.

If you are experiencing dry eye, please bring it to our attention. Untreated, dry eye can sometimes cause corneal abrasions or ulcers, inflammation, and even vision impairment.

 

 

At The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center, Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. will treat patients with dry eye from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and throughout Maryland.

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Is Your Job Placing You at a Higher Risk For Dry Eye?

Higher Risk For Dry Eye 640Dry eye symptoms such as red, watery, stinging eyes can negatively affect your work. But could your work environment actually be causing or exacerbating your symptoms? Recent research shows that where you work can heighten your risk of developing dry, irritated eyes.

Which Work Environments Increase Your Risk of Developing Dry Eye Symptoms?

Offices

Several factors appear to contribute to dry eyes. In fact, a survey of American and European office employees found that a third suffered from dry eye symptoms.

Research has shown that prolonged physical inactivity and staring at computer monitors increases a person’s susceptibility to developing dry eye syndrome.

Staring at a computer screen can reduce the number of times a person blinks by 30%. That’s problematic because blinking is essential for lubricating the eyes and keeping the protective tear film that covers the eye intact. If you find your eyes becoming irritated or uncomfortable at work, try blinking more, especially while using the computer and reading.

The humidity level of the air in the office also plays a role. Overuse of air conditioning and heating can cause the air to become dry, increasing the rate of tear evaporation. Having insufficient tears is a leading cause of dry eye symptoms. If you find that your work environment is too dry, try using a humidifier to add some moisture back into the air.

The Great Outdoors

Certain outdoor jobs can expose the eyes to eye-drying elements like wind, debris, and direct sunlight. Wind and heat can cause the eye’s tear film to prematurely evaporate, leaving the eye unprotected and susceptible to dryness.

Other factors that contribute to dry eye syndrome include pollution and exposure to harmful UV rays. Outdoor workers such as construction workers, farmers, and lifeguards should always use protective eyewear while working.

How Your Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help

Dry eye symptoms can range from mildly bothersome to debilitating. A comprehensive eye exam with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. will determine the underlying cause of your symptoms so the most effective treatment can be offered.

Relief from dry eye symptoms extends far beyond the options available at the drugstore. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms of any degree, contact The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to discover how you can achieve long-lasting relief. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and throughout Maryland.

Managing Dry Eye Symptoms While Enjoying the Outdoors

couple on a field of flowers 640As the weather gets warmer and Covid-19 restrictions gradually ease, many people want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. But for those with chronic dry eye syndrome, uncomfortable symptoms may deter them from enjoying Mother Nature. Some of these symptoms include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Grittiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Irritated or burning eyes
  • Blurred vision

While the only sure way to diagnose and treat your eye condition is having an eye exam with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O., the following tips may offer some relief until your next appointment — especially while you’re spending time in the open air.

Always Bring Along a Water Bottle

A dehydrated body can mean dehydrated eyes. Drinking plenty of water can help your eyes produce the healthy amount of tears needed to maintain lubrication. Even if you are spending time in a humid environment, be sure to drink water or other hydrating fluids. Try to avoid alcoholic beverages and sugary drinks, as they can be dehydrating and exacerbate dry eye symptoms.

Pack Some Lubricating Eye Drops

One of the main causes of dry eye syndrome is insufficient or poor quality tears. Lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, can compensate for the lack of tears and offer temporary relief. The drops’ tiny containers make them travel-friendly and perfect for almost any outdoor activity. There are many kinds of eye drops on the market, but Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. can recommend or prescribe the most suitable type for your eyes.

Wear Protective Eyewear

Exposure to the elements can leave your eyes feeling dry and uncomfortable. Wearing protective eyewear, such as sports goggles or wrap-around sunglasses, can protect your eyes from harsh winds, debris in the air, and sunlight. Even a light breeze can strip the eyes of their protective tear film and accelerate the rate of evaporation.

Visit Your Dry Eye Optometrist

While the above recommendations can provide temporary relief, a dry eye evaluation with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. can help identify and treat the underlying cause of your symptoms. Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. will recommend the latest and most effective dry eye treatments for long-lasting relief and optimal comfort. If you or a loved one is suffering from dry eye syndrome, call The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center to schedule your consultation today.

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center serves patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and throughout Maryland.

Ever Wonder What Causes Eye Twitching?

Dry Eye Africam American Man 640×350Many of us have experienced an involuntary eyelid spasm but didn’t give it much thought. These eyelid spasms, or twitches, are a repetitive and involuntary spasm of the muscles in the eyelids. The twitch most frequently occurs in the upper eyelid, but can occasionally occur in both upper and lower eyelids.

The twitch sensation is generally painless and harmless. It can be caused by several factors and rarely indicates a more serious underlying condition. One condition, however, that can contribute to eyelid twitching is dry eye syndrome (DES). Below, we’ll briefly explain DES and how it can trigger eyelid twitching.

What Is DES?

Dry eye syndrome is characterized by the chronic lack of sufficient ocular lubrication and can be caused by allergies, irritants, and insufficient or poor quality tears. Some symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Dry, irritated eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Grittiness
  • Stinging or burning sensation

If you suspect you have DES or experience any of the above symptoms, speak with Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. about finding relief and regaining the quality of life you seek.

How Is Eyelid Twitching Related To DES?

When the eyes lack lubrication, the nervous system compensates by increasing the eyes’ blink rate to try and refresh the tear film. If the brain sends too many signals to increase the blink rate, the eyelid’s muscles may begin to twitch due to the overload of signals fired from the brain. Eventually, as the eyelid muscles become more fatigued from the excess blinking, twitching becomes more noticeable and irritating.

What Can Be Done To Ease Symptoms?

Eyelid twitching can be bothersome and can even interfere with performing daily tasks. Though twitching episodes usually subside after a minute or two, there are some steps you can take to shorten their duration or eliminate them altogether.

Try using lubricating eye drops to bring some moisture back to your eyes, thus reducing the signals sent to the nervous system to increase the blink rate. Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Moshe Schwartz O.D., F.A.A.O. can recommend which over-the-counter drops best suit your eyes’ needs, or prescribe more potent eye drops.

Try gently massaging your closed upper eyelids to suppress the twitching when it occurs. The light pressure can help relax the surrounding muscles. You can also apply a warm eye compress when the lid is twitching or whenever your eyes feel irritated.

Additionally, if you experience twitching or cramping in other muscles, such as in your legs, taking some magnesium may help reduce the frequency of the spasms.

How We Can Help

Mild eyelid spasms and twitches are generally not something to be concerned about, unless they are prolonged, frequent, or distract you from your normal routine. At The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center, we aim to provide you with relief from any dry eye symptoms using the latest treatments available. If you or a loved one suffer from eye twitches or any other DES symptoms, let us help you manage your ocular condition for a lifetime of clear and comfortable vision.

The Dry Eye Center at Eyesymmetry Vision Center provides dry eye relief and other services to patients from Owings Mills, Baltimore, Ellicott City, Randallstown, and Maryland.

 

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