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Dry Eyes

What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, it also causes inflammatory dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive, leading to redness, irritation and inflammation. While these drops may offer temporary relief, long term they can do more harm than good. Moreover, the preservatives may leave residue on contact lenses. 

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation. 

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse. 

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly. 

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes. 

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes. 

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision. 

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your eye doctor before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary respite from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an eye doctor can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you. 

Q&A

What is dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications and the environment.

What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:

  • Itchy eyes
  • A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Burning sensation
  • Dryness
  • Irritation
  • Sensitivity to light and glare

 

Tips For Wearing Scleral Lenses

Pretty Cheerful Woman Gesturing With Two Fingers Near Eyes. Youn

Scleral lenses are ideal for patients with corneal irregularities, dry eyes, and hard-to-fit eyes. Their uniquely large circumference offers the best in visual comfort and clarity. But wearing and caring for your scleral lenses can take some getting used to.

Below are our top 5 tips for anyone who wears scleral lenses. If you have questions about scleral lenses or any other optometric matter, The Scleral Lens Center At Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. is here for you.

1. Lens Hygiene is Top Priority

Keeping your scleral lenses hygienic and free of buildup is key in ensuring the clearest possible vision. When you remove them from your eyes, rub them for several seconds with lens cleaner to remove surface debris and bacteria. Then, rinse them on both sides with saline solution before storing them.

Another hygiene tip: Before handling your lenses, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water, and to rinse and dry them with a lint-free cloth or paper towel. Good hygiene will significantly minimize possible complications and keep your eyes feeling fresh.

2. Manage Your Dry Eye

Many patients with dry eye syndrome (DES) choose to wear scleral lenses for their hydrating and soothing properties. While sclerals can offer substantial relief from their dry eye symptoms, patients shouldn’t forget to seek treatment for their DES.

That’s because scleral lenses help manage dry eye, but don’t actually treat it. So, it’s best to follow up with your eye doctor about any eye drops, medications, or at-home remedies to support healthy tears.

3. Use a Cotton Swab For Cleaning

Patients with long fingernails can find it challenging to thoroughly clean their scleral lenses. Rubbing the inside bowl of the lens with a cotton swab and cleaning solution can effectively remove the buildup from the lens. Then, rinse off the cleaning solution with saline to remove the cleaning solution and any lint from the cotton swab.

4. Try Different Insertion Tools

Is your current insertion method not working as smoothly as you’d like? No worries! Ask your eye doctor about different tools you can use, such as the O-ring or applicator ring.

But please only insert your lens with tools that your eye doctor recommends!

5. Follow Up With Your Eye Doctor

Because scleral lenses are customized, they often require a few visits with your optometrist to optimize their fit. Even after the fitting process is complete, follow-ups will help ensure that your lenses are still in good condition.

If your scleral lenses are giving you any trouble at all, we can help. To schedule your scleral lens consultation, call us today!

The Scleral Lens Center At Washington Eye Doctors serves patients in Washington, D.C., Bethesda, Arlington, Chevy Chase, and throughout Washington, D.C..

Frequently Asked Questions with Our Scleral Lenses Expert in Washington, D.C., District of Columbia:

Q: How do scleral lenses work?

  • A: Scleral lenses rest and vault over the entire sclera (white of the eye), encasing a hydrating reservoir in between the lens and the cornea (front surface of the eye). This allows people with irregular corneas to wear contact lenses, since the lens isn’t in direct contact with the cornea itself.

Q: How long do scleral lenses last?

  • A: Scleral lenses generally last 1-2 years, depending on how well you care for them and how your tear film reacts with them. Even so, check-ups every 6 months are recommended to ensure they still fit well and provide clear vision.


References

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8 Ways to Protect Your Eyes at the Office

Everyone seems to be staring at a screen these days, whether their computer, their smartphone or another digital device. The stress it puts on your eyes can cause a condition called “digital eye strain” (DES) or “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). Symptoms include eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, red eyes, and eye twitching.

How To Protect Your Eyes While You Work

Below are a few things you can do to lower your risk or mitigate any discomfort associated with DES.

1. See your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam

This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or treat symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. During your eye doctor’s appointment, make sure to speak with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt about your working habits, including the frequency and length of time you use a computer and other devices at work and at home.

If you get a chance before you come, measure the distance between your eyes and your computer screen and bring that information to the optometrist, so that you can get your eyes tested for that specific working distance.

Computer vision syndrome may be exacerbated by an underlying dry eye disease, which can be diagnosed and treated at our eye clinic in Washington, D.C..

Sometimes people who have good visual acuity assume they don’t need any glasses. However, even very mild prescriptions can improve eyestrain and curb fatigue when working at a computer.

2. Good lighting is key

Excessively bright light, whether due to outdoor sunshine coming in through the window or harsh interior lighting, is a common cause of eyestrain. When using your computer, your ambient lighting should be about 50% dimmer than what is typically found in most offices.

You can reduce exterior light by closing drapes, blinds or shades and diminish interior illumination by using fewer or lower intensity bulbs. Computer users often find that turning off overhead fluorescent lights and replacing them with floor lamps is easier on their eyes.

3. Minimize glare

Eyestrain can be aggravated by glare from light reflecting off surfaces including your computer screen. Position your computer so that windows are neither directly in front of nor behind the monitor, but rather to the side of it. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your display. If you wear glasses, get anti-reflective (AR) coating on your lenses to reduce glare by limiting the amount of light that reflects off the front and back surfaces of your lenses (more on that below.)

4. Upgrade your display

If you have a CRT (cathode) screen on your monitor, consider replacing it with a flat-panel LED (light-emitting diode) screen that includes an anti-reflective surface. Old-school CRT screens can be a major cause of computer eye strain due to the flickering images.

For your new flat panel desktop display, choose one with a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches, and the higher the resolution, the better.

5. Adjust display settings for added comfort

Adjusting your computer display settings can help decrease eye strain and fatigue too.

  • Brightness: Adjust your device’s brightness to match the luminance around you. If the white background of this page looks like a light source, then it should be dimmed. However, if it appears dull and gray, it may not provide enough contrast, which can make it hard to read.
  • Text size: Adjust the text size for maximum eye comfort, particularly when reading, editing or writing long documents. Increase the size if you find yourself squinting, but bigger isn’t always better, since overly large text display may force your eyes to track back and forth too quickly for comfort.
  • Color temperature: This refers to the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light, whereas orange and red are longer wavelength hues. Exposure to blue light helps keep you alert but tends to cause eye fatigue after a while; yellow to red tints are more relaxing and may be better for long-term viewing, especially at night. Many devices allow the user to adjust the color temperature.

6. Get computer glasses

Nearly 70% of North Americans experience digital eye strain related to prolonged use of electronic devices. To combat these effects, Washington Eye Doctors recommends Lutina blue light blocking lenses, which act as a shield to cut the glare and filter the blue light emanating from digital screens and artificial light.

For the greatest eye comfort, ask Dr. Michael Rosenblatt for customized computer glasses, which feature that filter out blue light. These can be made with or without prescription vision correction, for the benefit of those with 20/20 vision or contact lens wearers, though many people with contacts actually prefer to have alternative eyewear to use when their lenses become dry and uncomfortable from extended screen time.

Washington Eye Doctors can help you relieve the effects of digital eye strain with Lutina lenses.

7. Don’t forget to blink

When staring at a digital device people tend to blink up to 66% less often, and often the blinks performed during computer work are only partial which aren’t as effective at keeping the eyes moist and fresh feeling. Making a conscious effort to blink more while working or watching can prevent dryness and irritation.

8. Exercise your eyes

Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. Look away from your computer every 20 minutes and gaze at an object located 20 feet away, for a minimum of 20 seconds. This “20-20-20 rule” is a classic exercise to relax the eyes’ focusing muscles and reduce computer vision syndrome.

 

The steps above don’t require a tremendous amount of time or money to be effective. Contact Washington Eye Doctors in Washington, D.C. to make an appointment with Dr. Michael Rosenblatt and learn how the right eye drops, eye exercises, computer glasses with Lutina can improve eye comfort, reduce computer vision syndrome and potentially lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.