Our practice has noticed a significant increase in clinical dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction in many of our patients as a consequence of the COVID-19 induced quarantine. Restrictions for people to work from home wherever possible have led to what can best be described as a ‘living at work’ syndrome; i.e. working all the time and at all hours. We are now working much longer hours than we used to put in when we worked at the office and all the while with eyeballs glued to a computer, laptop, smartphone or TV. Not only is this a strain on the eyes, but it’s also bad for one’s mental and physical health.
Contact lens wearers should note that the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggests they refrain from using contacts through the sheltering in the period to avoid eye irritation and excessive rubbing. Too much touching one’s eyes can lead to conjunctivitis or pink eye. Classic symptoms of conjunctivitis include redness, itching, a foreign body sensation like an eyelash or sand in the eye, grittiness, irritation, discharge, crustiness or much worse. Recent studies demonstrate that COVID-19 can also be contracted by hand to eye contact.
As New York City enters re-opening phase 3 and 4, we encourage patients to come to our practice for management of irritation and eye stress that developed from prolonged confinement in an unvaried environment. Newer in office technologies, including BlephEx and Lipiflow, show excellent results with almost immediate relief. For patients struggling with the daily effects of eye discomfort should consider these newer technologies to rapidly address significant issues such as dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction. The in-office treatments we offer, including BlephEx and Lipiflow technologies, are outlined as the follows:
- BlephEx, a new and painless in-office treatment that Dr. Belmont performs for the management and prevention of blepharitis, a condition where the eyelids and lid margins become inflamed due to an overgrowth of bacteria that live on the lids and base of the eyelashes.
- Lipiflow another new and painless in-office procedure for patients suffering from dry eye as a consequence of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The twelve minute, in-office procedure, stimulates, gently heats and massages the lids and glands directly. Lipiflow is a much more immediate approach vs. gradual benefits that may be derived from a protracted and labor-intensive use of warm compresses. It cleans out and clears blocked meibomian glands in order to restore a more adequate function.
- An in-office procedure that clears and unclogs blocked meibomian glands, allowing them to heal and return to a healthier state. This is of particular benefit for patients suffering from MGD (meibomian gland dysfunction).
Alternative treatments Dr. Belmont offers to address irritation from prolonged confinement include:
- Artificial tear lubricating drops for relatively mild cases. Artificial tears are non-prescription and available in preservative and preservative-free variants. There are any number of manufacturers. The products range from those that are very runny to drops that are much more viscous. Some patients may prefer one particular variant over another. Dry Eye patients that will have to use lubricating drops frequently or for a prolonged period however, are encouraged to avoid drops with preservatives.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids like fish oil or flax oil which are good for the mucous membranes and also the eyes. These are readily available over-the-counter and are taken orally. Flax seed oil is reported to be more effective in most cases and has the added advantage of being somewhat more palatable than fish oil.
- Steroidal Drops may be used for more moderate cases but they do not offer a permanent solution as they cannot be taken in perpetuity.
- Restasis an anti-inflammatory medicated drop that may provide some relief and help restore the meibomian glands to a more proper function.
- Moisture Goggles that are used at night time, especially for patients whose eyelids are not shutting properly. The goggles slow down the evaporation of the tear film, creating a moisture barrier that protects the eyes while sleeping. Their benefits can provide comfort to patients that will last right through the next day.
- Punctal Plugs placed on the corner of the eyelids, on the tiny drainage ports where tears are syphoned from the eye’s surface. The plugs are very efficient in slowing down the rate at which the tear film is syphoned off and can provide much relief in more severe cases.
- Testosterone Cream for chronic sufferers to address the imbalance of too much estrogen and not enough testosterone that is at the root of meibomian gland dysfunction. The cream, which has been used quite successfully, is applied topically on the lids themselves, at bedtime, to restore the glands to a healthy state and provide much needed relief.
Call Dr. Belmont now to schedule your appointment. Your eyes deserve the best and so do you.