Glaucoma and Dry Eyes

Eye doctors are excited this year with 2020 rolling in. It’s an excellent opportunity for us to shine some light on eye care topics that we would like to highlight. January is Glaucoma Awareness Month. 


Over 2 million Americans are affected by glaucoma. With proper treatment, the vast majority will not go blind from this silent disease of the eye. The most common form of treatment is eye drops. These drops are very important and work to reduce the eye’s pressure, thus reducing the risk of glaucoma damage. For the vast majority, eye drops are sufficient for controlling the eye pressure.  


While eye drops are a safe and effective method of controlling eye pressures, they can come with some side-effects. One particular side effect that I’d like to discuss is dry eyes. Having dry eyes can be a frustrating and difficult side effect for patients to understand and tolerate. So I’d like to go over some of the reasons and also some potential solutions to help.


Dry eyes are caused when the tear film of the eye is disrupted in some way. This tear film coats the eye to keep it moist, comfortable and helps keep the vision sharp and focused. If the tear film breaks down for any reason it can lead to decreased vision and discomfort of the eyes. There are many causes of dry eyes and glaucoma drops is one potential reason. It is estimated that about 60% of patients with glaucoma have dry eye symptoms. 


In many cases it is the preservative in the glaucoma drop. This preservative can disrupt the tear film which can lead to feelings of discomfort or redness. The tear film becomes irregular and inconsistent causing light not to bend correctly into the eye which leads to decreased vision. 


While it can be frustrating to have side effects from medications, it is important to continue treatment as glaucoma that is left untreated can cause permanent irreversible vision loss. There are many solutions to try and it’s best to talk to your eye doctor to pick the right solution for you. 


One of the most common solutions for dry eye symptoms is to use artificial tears to supplement and strengthen the tear film while on your glaucoma medications. Another common solution is to find a glaucoma drop that may have a different side effect profile that is more tolerable. Not all glaucoma drops affect the tear film the exact same way in every patient, so there is some room for trying different medications to find the right one for you. There may also be opportunities to complete glaucoma office procedures or eye surgeries that can supplement or replace the need to use drops while still achieving the desired goals for eye pressures. 


Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your eye doctor.  At Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, P.A., we utilize the latest technology and therapies to treat our glaucoma patients and do our best to minimize side effects as much as possible.  We look forward to seeing you in the new year. Schedule your appointment today! Remember 2020: your vision is our focus.


By: Aly Sheraly, M.D.  Dr. Sheraly is an Ophthalmologist with Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida. He is a Glaucoma Specialist.

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