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Masks Can Cause Dry Eye Symptoms!

Accent on Eyes Local Dry Eye treatment center in Glassboro, New Jersey

At our eye clinic near you, we’ve been seeing an increasing number of patients who visit due to stinging eyes, redness and blurred vision – all classic signs of dry eye syndrome. While dry eye syndrome has always been a common reason to book an appointment with our optometrist near you, what’s new is that the dry eye symptoms seem to be caused by wearing masks.

Many eye diseases can be quickly and easily diagnosed during a Comprehensive eye exam, Pediatric eye exam and Contact lens eye exam. If you were diagnosed with an eye disease, such as Cataracts, Myopia or Nearsightedness , Glaucoma, Macular degeneration, Diabetic retinopathy, or Dry eye, you may be overwhelmed by the diagnosis and confused about what happens next. Will you need medications or surgery – now or in the future? Is LASIK eye and vision surgery an option for you ? Our Glassboro eye doctor is always ready to answer your questions about eye disease and Contact lenses.

What Is Prevent Blindness?

Founded in 1908, Prevent Blindness was established by volunteers to decrease the amount of preventable blindness in children. They helped to almost eliminate a condition called ophthalmia neonatorum, a leading cause of blindness in infants at the time.

How do masks lead to dry eyes?

If you’re wearing a mask and eyeglasses, every time you breathe it fogs up your lenses. Then they defog, only to fog up again with your next breath. Steamed-up glasses and the onset of dry eye symptoms is an emerging condition to be aware of. The main reason for promoting awareness of MADE is not to encourage anyone to stop wearing a mask, but rather, it’s to help people manage the eye irritation that may result – while continuing to don face masks.

When you breathe, you expel air over the top of your mask. This air flows over the surface of your eyes and can dry out the tear film that coats and lubricates your eye surface. It also speeds evaporation of tears.

In general, our eye doctor near you has found that mask wearing doesn’t trigger the onset of dry eye syndrome in people who don’t have it. Instead, it can worsen symptoms in people who already have the condition or are at high risk for it – such as people who spend a lot of time staring at computer screens. Nowadays, with all the working-from-home and Zoom meetings that occur, most people fall into the category of “at risk” for dry eye syndrome.

How can you prevent your mask from causing dry eye irritation?

  • Make sure your mask fits properly. A poorly fitting face covering increases the chances that exhaled air escapes from the top opening and flows over your eyes. Push the metal strip at the top margin of your mask so it fits snugly over the contour of your nose and cheekbones, blocking airflow.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes. This habit can lead to a long list of problems, including micro-scratches in your cornea and swelling that can exacerbate the symptoms.
  • Don’t ignore dry eye symptoms. Pay attention to how your eyes feel and seek effective treatment, such as lubricating eye drops, from our optometrist near you.

Book an eye exam at an eye clinic near you to learn more about your candidacy for contact lenses and which type is right for you.

Accent on Eyes, your Glassboro eye doctor for eye exams and eye care

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DRY EYE TECHNOLOGY IN Glassboro

When tears decrease in frequency,
Dry Eye is typically the result.

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome, referred to as DES, is a chronic eye condition that occurs when the eyes produce an insufficient amount of tears or when the tears lack the essential oils that lubricate the eye’s surface. (This often results in watery eyes and excessive tearing!). A well-lubricated eye blocks foreign bodies or substances from irritating the eye’s surface.

Dr. William S. Berger treats patients from all over Glassboro, New Jersey who have Dry Eye symptoms, helping them achieve long-lasting relief from Dry Eye Syndrome.

Woman putting eye drops in her eyes
Girl sneezing from allergies

What Causes Dry Eye?

Dry Eye can result from a number of factors, including genetics, the natural aging process, or prescription medications, to name a few.

Hormonal changes are a common cause of Dry Eye. In fact, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, taking oral contraceptives, or experiencing menopause find that their eyes feel dry and uncomfortable during these times. Women over the age of 50 have a 50% greater chance of developing DES than men of the same age.

Common Symptoms of Dry Eye

Patients with DES experience a number of symptoms that can disrupt their daily activities or cause chronic pain.

The most common signs of DES include the following:

  • Blurriness
  • Burning
  • Dryness
  • Feeling as if something is in your eye
  • Irritation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Pain
  • Red eyes
  • Stinging
  • Watery eyes

Dry Eye Treatment and Relief

Those who suffer from DES often try to alleviate the pain by blinking either less or more often, rubbing their eyes, or by using over-the-counter artificial tears.

Why is blinking important? Blinking is healthy because it naturally moisturizes the eyes and gets rid of tiny particles that may enter the eye. Less blinking can increase dryness, itching, or redness, making DES symptoms even more acute.

Rubbing your eyes, especially when they’re already irritated, can intensify your symptoms. This is because the added pressure can make the pain worse. If your hands aren’t 100% clean, you can unintentionally spread germs or bacteria into your eyes when you rub them. Rubbing the eyes can also cause tiny blood vessels to break, increasing the redness of your eyes.

Artificial tears provide some temporary relief by lubricating the eyes with a medicated solution. These can be quite effective at alleviating soreness and itchiness, however, excessive use isn’t recommended. Many brands include preservatives, which aren’t good for your health in the long-term. Other preservative-free brands can, over time, fail to relieve the basic Dry Eye symptoms. Patients may find that having to continuously purchase artificial tears can become costly, and consistently using them throughout the day disrupts their daily activities.

Dry Eye Syndrome Treatment

Typically, DES is treated with medicated eye drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or a heated compress. Occasionally, the doctor may recommend punctal plugs. These are tiny devices that are inserted into the eye’s tear duct, blocking any drainage. This can alleviate DES symptoms by preventing moisture from draining out of the eye, instead keeping them inside the tear duct area. This increases the moisture level, giving longer-term relief. Plus, punctal plugs are not permanent and can be easily removed or replaced, making them a simple, affordable solution to alleviate symptoms.

Beaker with sand and origami inside

Dry Eye Technology

Advancements in medical technology and scientific breakthroughs have made treatment for Dry Eye easier, with quicker results, and longer-lasting benefits. Three of the up-and-coming technologies for DES treatment are InflammaDry, LipiFlow, and TearLab.

Accent on Eyes has some of the most cutting-edge and advanced technologies to quickly and effectively test for Dry Eye Syndrome. Let Dr. William S. Berger and the talented, experienced staff help get you started on the path to real long-term relief from Dry Eye.

Our tears contain a natural protein enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase-9, or MMP-9. Patients with Dry Eye usually have elevated levels of this protein. The InflammaDry system measures MMP-9 levels by analyzing the tears taken from inside the lower eyelid. The entire process is fast and results are received in about 10 minutes. The disposable test is performed in the office, making it a top choice for doctors and DES patients.

Meibomian glands are located by the eyelashes, towards the edge of the eyelid. These glands secrete oils, which lubricate the eye and keep your tears moist. When the glands become blocked, Dry Eye occurs.

The LipiFlow system takes detailed images of the tear film in the eye, so that the doctor can determine if you have MGD. Then a combination of gentle heat and light pressure are applied on both the inside and outside of the eyelid, removing the blockage and stimulating your eye’s natural moisture. The procedure takes around 12 minutes to administer and is done in the doctor’s office.

The TearLab device measures concentration levels in human tears. This helps diagnose DES by noting any levels of tear concentration that are elevated, which can be a sign of Dry Eye.

TearLab consists of a 3-in-1 device: the test card, test pen, and countertop unit. The test card is a single-use microchip that collects a tiny sample of tear fluid in under 30 seconds. It sits inside the test pen, which analyzes and sends the data t the reader, which is in the unit. The unit rests on a flat surface and displays the test results in seconds.