Contact Lens Care & Compliance
Patient Resources for Dry Eye
BY SUSAN J. GROMACKI, OD, MS, FAAO
It is well documented that compliance with a medical treatment regimen is increased by patient education (Seltzer, 1980; Brus, 1998). A patient who understands his condition is more likely to see the benefit of his treatment plan. Also, if the patient has been educated regarding the purpose of his treatment, he will be more likely to follow it. This is certainly true for dry eye.
Start With Symptoms
Dry eye education begins with a description of the patient’s symptoms and how they correlate to his diagnosis of dry eye. Symptoms of dry eye can include:
• A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation
• Mucus discharge
• Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
• Eye fatigue
• Sensitivity to light
• A sensation of having something in the eyes (foreign body sensation)
• Contact lens discomfort or intolerance
• Watery eyes
• Blurred vision, particularly first thing in the morning or at the end of the day
The What and Why of Dry Eye Treatment
It is also important to describe the patient’s chosen treatment and why it was prescribed for him. Treatments for dry eye can include:
• Lubricants (artificial tears, gels, and ointments)
• Punctal plugs/cautery
• Topical steroids
• Restasis (cyclosporine A, Allergan)
• Lid hygiene
• Warm compresses
• Protective eyewear and other environmental controls
• LipiFlow thermal pulsation system (TearScience)
• Antibiotics to reduce inflammation
• Scleral contact lenses
• Omega-3 fatty acids
• Positioning computer screen below eye level
• Discontinuing smoking
Strategies for Successful Patient Education
It’s best to employ several education strategies and to use different communication methods to ensure that patients fully understand their dry eye condition and treatment plan. In-office dry eye videos can be quite beneficial (Karpecki, 2013), as can face-to-face conversations between practitioners and patients.
In this day and age, these communication strategies can be enhanced by providing patients with a list of educational websites to browse at their convenience. Of course, this cannot be relied upon as the only form of education, in the event that patients cannot or do not elect to access them.
Following is a list of good additional resources available to help patients better understand their dry eye condition and its treatment.
• Medline Plus: www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003087.htm
• National Eye Institute: www.nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye.asp#8
• American Optometric Association: www.aoa.org/dry-eye.xml
• Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation: www.sjogrens.org
• Allergan: www.restasis.com/Chronic-Dry-Eye-Disease
• TearScience: www.lipiflow.com/dryeye/dry-eye
• Alcon: www.systane.com/Dry-Eye-Information.aspx
• Allergan: www.mydryeyes.com/Index
• Mayo Clinic: www.mayoclinic.com/health/dry-eyes/DS00463
• All About Vision: www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/dry-eye.htm
Book: Capogna and Pelletier, “Dry Eye Syndrome,” in EyeFoods: a Food Plan for Healthy Eyes (2011). CLS
To obtain references for this article, please visit http://www.clspectrum.com/references.asp and click on document #212.
Dr. Gromacki is a diplomate in the American Academy of Optometry’s Section on Cornea, Contact Lenses and Refractive Technologies and practices in Chevy Chase, Md.