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Thinking of Lasik? Treat Dry Eye First

Lasik will often cause temporary dry eye symptoms. Residents of communities known for dry eye should be evaluated for the chronic condition as a part of the decision about Lasik, Bladeless Lasik, PRK, LASEK, or Epi-Lasik.

Bright lights and dry eyes. Las Vegas tops the list of the cities most likely to contribute to dry eye.


RED BANK, N.J., June 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The not-for-profit National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC) today released a list of America's 100 Dry Eye Hot Spots, those cities with environmental conditions most likely to contribute to dry eye, a condition which can progress and if left untreated can lead to increased risk of infection and impaired vision.

The presence of dry eye is an important factor when considering refractive surgery. Lasik and Bladeless Lasik commonly induce temporary dry eye. The surface ablation techniques of PRK, LASEK, and Epi-Lasik may also induce dry eye, but are less likely. Pre-existing dry eye needs to be managed before a decision about refractive surgery.

The 100 Dry Eye Hot Spot rankings are based on an analysis of data archived by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climatic Data Center and the Environmental Protection Agency that considered six factors including temperature, humidity, wind, altitude, pollutants and ocular allergens.

Las Vegas tops the list, followed by four Texas communities (Lubbock, El Paso, Midland/Odessa, Dallas/Ft Worth). Other large metropolitan cities on the list include New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Miami. For a complete list of the cities, visit

"Even if you live in one of the worst cities for dry eye, you don't have to live with dry eye," said Marguerite McDonald, MD, FACS, clinical professor of ophthalmology at Tulane University Hospital & Clinic. "Anyone using eye drops several times a day should see an eye care professional who can properly diagnose chronic dry eye and may recommend adding a treatment, such as a prescription eye drop that targets the underlying cause of dry eye."

Chronic dry eye occurs when changes to the health of the tear-producing glands affect the quantity and quality of tears produced. The tear film can no longer provide enough nourishment or protection to the surface of the eye, explained Dr. McDonald. Dry eye can be a progressive disease and, if left untreated, chronic dry eye can lead to more serious problems.

A detailed article about Lasik and dry eye treatment is available at Lasik Dry Eye.

Dry eye is one of the most common complaints brought to eye doctors, accounting for nearly one fourth of all office visits. Nearly 40 percent of Americans suffer from dry eye symptoms, which may include itching, irritation, light sensitivity, blurred vision, dryness and foreign body sensation. Those suffering from dry eye may have trouble with reading, professional work, driving at night and using a computer.

In addition to environmental factors, such as those found in the cities on the 100 Dry Eye Hot Spot rankings, certain medical factors also can aggravate dry eye, including hormonal changes due to aging and menopause, thyroid problems, vitamin deficiencies, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, rosacea, sarcoidosis and Sjogren's syndrome.

"Women are twice as likely as men to suffer dry eye because of hormonal factors and related autoimmune disorders that disproportionately affect women," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of the National Women's Health Resource Center (NWHRC). "It is a growing public health issue that people need to know more about."

To help raise awareness, Sen. Mark Dayton of Minnesota is working to formally designate July as Dry Eye Awareness Month in Congress. Together with the NWHRC and the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the autoimmune disease that affects moisture producing glands, Sen. Dayton has declared July as Dry Eye Awareness Month in the Congressional Record.

Treatment is based on disease severity, using a continuum of care approach and an evaluation of the cause of the disease. For the management of dry eye, the American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends education, environmental control and artificial tears as the beginning of the treatment continuum, with medications and surgery considered as disease severity increases.

Artificial tears provide symptomatic relief and do not address the underlying cause of dry eye disease. Further, they are a "foundation" for all levels of disease severity and are recommended as a treatment component as other therapies are added.

Many people self-diagnose and use artificial tears to manage dry eye symptoms. If a person uses artificial tears three or more times a day for dry eye symptoms, they should visit an eye doctor. Additional treatments may be recommended for these patients. Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05% is the first and only prescription eye drop that is believed to increase the eyes' natural ability to produce tears which may be suppressed by inflammation due to chronic dry eye.

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