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Across from the Delta Hotel on Erb St. in Waterloo, ON

Across from the Delta Hotel on Erb St. in Waterloo, ON

Patient FAQs

Q&A Dr. Ellison Answers Your Eyecare Questions

Q: Is it true that Dry Eye symptoms seem to be more severe in the winter than in the warmer spring and summer months?

A: Yes, when we turn on the heating in the winter the air dries out and worsens dry eyes. However, with modern office ventilation, many workplaces are dry year round. Computer use, wind and blowing air vents in cars can also contribute to dry eyes during the entire year.

Q: When should a person come in to see their optometrist for Dry Eye symptoms and when is it enough to take care of this problem yourself?

A: Yes, actually the two biggest causes of watery eyes are allergies (usually accompanied by itching) and dry eye. There are two kinds of tears, basal and reflex tears. If you don’t have enough (or the right kind) of basal tears to keep the eye moist, the reflex tears (which are the crying/cutting onion tears) kick in and then you have too many tears streaming down your face! Think of it as your eyes turning on the taps to water themselves.

Q: I have a friend whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?

A: Yes, actually the two biggest causes of watery eyes are allergies (usually accompanied by itching) and dry eye. There are two kinds of tears, basal and reflex tears. If you don’t have enough (or the right kind) of basal tears to keep the eye moist, the reflex tears (which are the crying/cutting onion tears) kick in and then you have too many tears streaming down your face! Think of it as your eyes turning on the taps to water themselves.

Q: What is the examination like to determine whether someone is suffering from Dry Eyes?

A: As part of a regular eye examination we will inquire about use of eye drops and whether the patient has any discomfort or redness which may be dry eye related. We will also take a careful look with the biomicroscope to see if plugged oil glands in the lid or any dry patches on the cornea are present. We often use a yellow stain called fluorescein to see how quickly the tears evaporate. We also look for eyelid issues like blepharitis (inflamed crusty lids) or demodex mites which can worsen dry eye symptoms.

Q: I have a friend whose eyes are frequently overly watery. That isn’t Dry Eye, is it?

A: Yes, actually the two biggest causes of watery eyes are allergies (usually accompanied by itching) and dry eye. There are two kinds of tears, basal and reflex tears. If you don’t have enough (or the right kind) of basal tears to keep the eye moist, the reflex tears (which are the crying/cutting onion tears) kick in and then you have too many tears streaming down your face! Think of it as your eyes turning on the taps to water themselves.

Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?

A: There are many simple treatments to help dry eye sufferers. Improving the quality of tears with hot compresses and Omega 3 supplements can be very helpful to restore some of the top oily layer of the tears which prevents tear evaporation. Careful lid cleansing can also help. Artificial tears have come a long way from the watery eye drops of the past. Ingredients such as lipids and sodium hyaluronate and even a natural sugar called trehalose not only make the new generation of artificial tears more hydrating but also much more comfortable. New technologies in unpreserved drop delivery systems such as Hylo and Hyabak mean artificial tears are also more gentle for sore, red, dry eyes. Occasionally prescription eye drops are used to increase the tear volume in tear deficient patients.

Q: Are some people more prone to having Dry Eyes than others?

A: Absolutely! Rheumatoid arthritis patients very often experience very dry eyes, as well as patients with other autoimmune diseases or who take certain drying medications. Heavy computer users and people who work outdoors or in dry office environments also often show dry eye symptoms. People with allergies to airborne particles such as dust, mold or pet dander are also often more bothered with dry eyes as well.