The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog

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2005-2008: DryEyeTalk (then... and now)

THEN

DryEyeTalk was launched on February 19, 2005 as an online support group of sorts with a handful of LASIK dry eye patients migrating from D'Eyealogues, the forum I'd started on LaserMyEye.org years ago.

It took quite awhile to get some momentum going. Making your site visible on the internet without a marketing budget is not exactly a slam dunk. Really it's just all about patience, waiting for traffic to build up so that the site is 'self-sustaining'.

NOW

Every time I turn around we seem to hit a new milestone. Here are a few interesting facts about DryEyeTalk:

MEMBERS
2,132

POSTS
24,212 as of 5 minutes ago.
That's about the same quantity as the "Eye & Vision" section on the famous Healthboards, which is more than twice as old as DEZ, so I'd say we're doing pretty well for such a specialized topic on a standalone website.

TYPES OF DRY EYE
We may have started with LASIK, but LASIK is in the minority amongst the myriad of causes indicated by members in their profiles. Here are some of the causes named:
- LASIK, PRK, LASEK, etc.
- Eyelid surgeries
- Menopause & other hormonal causes
- Aging
- Contact lenses
- Autoimmune diseases (Sjogrens, RA, lupus)
- Radiation, chemotherapy and other cancer related treatments
- Blepharitis
- Side effects from medications

COMMUNITY
Like many forums... the community has seen several 'generations' pass through over the years. I suppose it's a bit like attending "dry eye school" and eventually graduating and moving on. But there have been some noteworthy trends - if indeed it is possible to identify trends in as short a period as three years. One example is a combination of age and imputed cause. Of course, the 40+ crowd was, is and will remain the majority but it's impossible not to notice how many young people have joined the ranks. In the early days, it was very unusual to get a young member (say, in their twenties) with dry eye from anything but LASIK. Now it seems we get more every day. They typically have moderate to severe MGD and in many cases can point to a 'trigger' that set them into a severely dry cycle almost overnight. Kind of worrying, and one of the reasons I want to see more epidemiological studies as I think this new dry eye demographic is flying right under the radar.

FORUMS
Forums always evolve over the years and when they are run by someone with a penchant for re-arranging the furniture, they evolve even more... Once we had built up a biggish archive, I started sorting and filing posts by topic to make browsing easier. I love bulletin boards, but a big drawback is trying to find what you're looking for... it's THERE but it's a needle in a haystack! The "filing system" makes this much more efficient, though it's awfully time-consuming.

Another advancement in the forums is Q&A forums. Dr. Robert Latkany (author of "The Dry Eye Remedy" has been with us for just over a year now, answering patients' questions. DrG did a stint fielding contact lens questions, and we're now starting to get interest from other optometrists as well including Dr. Lange on nutrition and dry eye and Dr. Bazan who is taking general questions. And Frank Holly, PhD has recently joined and is giving us some absolutely fascinating background information on the physiology of the tear film. I've also recently opened up a forum where doctors and industry people can participate and interact with patients without being in a moderated Q&A format.

Then there are various special little forums, from "plug a doc" where people can seek or offer doctor recommendations, to the new Dry Eye Triumphs forum where we try to encourage each other with positive progress reports.

All in all, we've come a long way, thanks to all our wonderful members and the contributions they have been making over the years.
RebeccaComment