Let me introduce today’s topic in a different, “round ’em up cowboy” sort of way, so stay with me on this, OK? Incidentally, it is good to be back with you. I know it has been a few days since the last post, but we just got back from the most amazing place for vacation. Let’s just say that if you have never been to Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the summer, put it at the top of your bucket list or better yet, just GO! We stayed at Gros Ventre Ranch, a “dude ranch” and it was a first for the Kloess family. We took the entire crew, including our 17 month old grandson, Jackson (so many people asked if he was named for the town of Jackson, that we were tempted to say “yes”! He was the hit of the ranch, especially when he kept his cowboy hat on).
So…here we are on vacation, at a cool ranch, with other families that we just met, discussing life, work, etc. As so often happens to me (and probably many of you), once I share what I do for a living, a myriad of questions arise that invariably start out as…”I know you are on vacation, but would you mind if I asked you a work-related question?” Honestly, it never bothers me when someone asks a medical question outside of clinic. I am used to it and if I can help someone, well all the better.
Jason (left) and my son-in-law Andy
We rode horses everyday through some of the most beautiful and dusty/dry country I have ever seen, so it was no surprise that the most frequent medical question I received dealt with dry eyes.
So, lets briefly talk about the condition we ophthalmologists call the “Dry Eye Syndrome”. Millions of people suffer from this condition. It is more common in older women and in arid climates (like Jackson Hole). Certain medications (some antidepressants) can cause dry eyes, and eye conditions such as blepharitis (lid margin inflammation) can worsen it. Initial treatment options include over the counter preservative-free artificial tears (take as often as needed), thicker “gel” tears, ocular ointments (at night), pills containing omega 3 fatty acids/fish oil, and identification and cessation of any potential worsening factors (medications, avoiding ceiling fans and drafty areas, etc.). We can place tiny plugs in the tear drainage ducts (punctal plugs), that can be very helpful, as well as prescribing medications such as Restasis. Inflammation of the ocular surface is commonly seen with dryness so short-term use of steroid drops can be highly effective.
Take a “vacation” from your dry eyes (oh that was bad!) by letting us examine you for this all too common and sometimes subtle condition.
Until next time, happy trails to you and yours!