The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog

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Wall Street Journal article

The WSJ published an article about dry eye last week (May 1st).

I thought Rhonda Rundle did an awesome job:

She covered a wide range of causes, including elective surgeries such as laser eye surgery and cosmetic eyelid surgeries, where patients are frequently not informed ahead of time what their risks are (and often are not well screened for special risk factors).

She made it clear that dry eye is not just a minor nuisance but is actually debilitating for many people.

She mentioned many treatments and products above and beyond the usual fare of drops, plugs and Restasis.

If those three things don't sound earthshattering, then point me to any major article in any really influential media that has achieved even one of those three things. Having the weight of the WSJ behind statements like that is, in my opinion, really groundbreaking. It lends credibility to the disease that it has not often been accorded before, and opens the door for further follow up by other press.

Some highlights...

Inadequate attention
For some people, dry eye is more than a small irritation -- it can be a debilitating condition that causes painful scratchiness, light sensitivity and stinging in the eyes. But dry-eye patients say they often get perfunctory care from ophthalmologists and optometrists, who simply advise them to blink more and use over-the-counter lubricating drops. Such products may offer temporary relief, but they can be expensive, and many patients complain that they aren't very effective.


Laser surgery connection

nd many complaints are linked to the popularity of vision-correction surgery. There are about 1.4 million surgeries a year in the U.S., according to industry research firm Market Scope. Ophthalmologists say that dry eye is a common side effect that can become chronic in some patients....

Ironically, chronic dry eye can also be caused by patients' efforts to relieve contact-lens discomfort. Some patients who find they can't wear contacts turn to laser surgery. But such intolerance is a warning sign of a possibly higher risk of dry eye, ophthalmologists say. The condition is common after Lasik surgery, and usually goes away within a few months. But doctors say that for a small percentage of patients -- perhaps 5% -- dry eye can be a lasting and debilitating outcome....

Cathy Bishop-Clark, a professor of computer and information technology at Miami University's Middletown, Ohio, campus, says she tried "a boatload of treatments, including Restasis, which didn't help me." She says she gets help from special goggles meant to create a moisture chamber around the eyes. "I came across the goggles at a motorcycle shop," she says. She has five pairs, costing between $125 and $150 each.

Panoptx Eyewear, a closely held Pleasanton, Calif., company, developed the eyewear for skiers and other outdoor sports enthusiasts. A few years ago, the company started marketing to dry-eye patients.

Dr. Bishop-Clark, 43 years old, says her dry eye was caused by Lasik surgery seven years ago. She says she was told by her surgeon that dry eye was a risk, but a very low one. Because she can't stand to have her eyes open all the time, she has had to curtail her leisure reading and hire people to assist her at work. "Dry eye just sounds so trivial, but it's a disability," she says.
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