I recently ran across an article in Self magazine that I thought was great called “5 signs your Dry Eye Treatment isn’t working for you.” In the article they state, “You have a lot of options when it comes to treating your dry eye symptoms, but that doesn't mean they'll all work for you. And if something isn't working, there's no reason to stick it out.
That said, it's not always easy to know when to throw in the (probably very dry) towel: Sometimes figuring out whether or not a particular treatment option is actually helping takes a while—and other times you know right away that it's simply not worth putting up with.”
I want to echo this sentiment and offer you guidance through this complex issue and its treatments. Because dry eye is what we do here in my practice, on my youtube channel, and in this blog I thought it would be fun to go through the article and give you my take on each of their thoughts as an Optometrist & dry eye specialist.
Welcome back to the eye school blog, with me Dr. D, where I teach you about products and treatments related to dry eye syndrome and eye beauty so you can have healthy, beautiful, comfortable eyes. So I love the idea behind this article because Dry Eye treatment can truly be so complex with so many options that it’s very easy to become overwhelmed, unsure which step to take, and it’s important to get a good sense of what has worked for you and what isn’t working so that you and your doctor can tailor your treatment to your eyes.
What's Your Dry Eyes Treatment? Don’t Be Overwhelmed By Choices and Information
You’ve been using your treatment consistently and still aren’t seeing improvement - I love this point because it speaks to the fact that many of our Dry Eye therapies really do take consistency and time to work well. In the case of artificial tears and warm compresses and other at home hygiene habits, it can take days to weeks for those treatments to work.
However there are multiple prescription options that take months to work one or two months to even feel any difference whatsoever. So therefore it’s really important to not get discouraged if your treatment doesn’t work immediately, but to also pay attention if it’s not working over the course of weeks or months.
Your symptoms are getting worse - It is possible of course to have an allergic reaction to any of our dry eye treatments. If you are allergic or Have a hypersensitivity to any of the ingredients in the treatment, you may notice that your symptoms worsen instead of improve. They usually do so symmetrically in both eyes.
Even dry eye treatments sometimes contain preservatives and chemicals that can cause an allergic reaction. I have a little mnemonic I use called RSVP. It's very simple to remember because of the common usage of RSVP. In eyecare, RSVP stands for redness sensitivity to light vision changes and pain. Those four things should only be getting better with treatment not worse and so, if you do have a worsening of R,S,V,or P - make sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible.
Your treatment is causing side effects that are unpleasant - Some side effects are common in the treatment of dry eyes. For instance, it's incredibly common to have some stinging/burning early on in treatment. This is because the cornea is so dry and abraded that any drops at all will potentially sting.
This often gets better as your cornea heals but if it isn’t getting better or feels debilitating to you, you should definitely mention it to your doctor. One that wasn’t mentioned in the article but is really common is a terrible taste in the black of your throat. This is common and occurs because tears naturally drain into the back of your throat. If this is a concern for you, you can do what is called punctal occlusion to reduce the amount of drop that drains. However, if this symptom is a deal breaker, make sure to tell your doctor.
Let’s Get Into The Specifics of Your Dry Eyes Treatment(s)
Your treatment only works in certain climates or on certain days - As a dry eye specialist, I spend a good bit of time during my patient visits understanding my patients day to day habits and environments. That’s because different temperatures, humidity levels and activities absolutely affect how your eyes feel.
A great example is my patients that work at a computer 12 hours a day then retire …resulting in their eyes feeling much better immediately. If you find that the seasons have changed or you’ve gone from working at home back to the office and your eyes just don’t feel great anymore - definitely discuss with your doctor.
The side effects last for a long time after using the treatment - many of our dry eye therapies do come with some side effects that we expect. However, if those symptoms aren’t going away it may be time to let your doctor know.
One good example is ointment, commonly used at night. Ointment is expected to blur your vision. But if it makes your eyes blurry in the morning making it difficult for you to get your day started, it may be a good idea to look at other options.
Ultimately, your dry eye treatment needs to work for you. It’s important that it makes a positive impact on your quality of life and day to day activities.
Make sure to check out the original article in Self magazine. I loved it and I think they take a great approach to walking you through what you should and should not expect with your Dry Eye treatment. And of course, if you feel that your Dry Eye treatment is not working well for you make sure to take notes and take those to your doctor so that a better treatment plan can be implemented.