August 8, 2013
I’m going to pick on one forum that I was reading this morning. The thread in this forum was about using Restasis for dry eye problems. The medical terminology for dry eye is keratoconjunctivitis sicca but there are a few other ways to also describe dry eye, irritating and/or painful might do it. Where do I start with the things I read there? I hope there are better forums to get information but the long thread must mean that a lot of people read it. And I’m guessing a lot of people are also learning the wrong thing especially when they might only read the first page of comments.
I’m going to link to the thread at the bottom of this post so if you’re bored and want to see what I’m talking about you’re more than welcome. But warning! The internet is full of bad or misinformation when it comes to health. A lot of us are obsessed with reading about it too.
Let me just say this about Restasis. It is a medication that’s designed to reduce the inflammatory molecules that for some reason become more pronounced in the tear film and lead to ONE form of dry eye. Restasis works for some people and doesn’t seem effective for others. Why on earth would we prescribe it if we don’t even know what kind of dry eye you have? If there were only simple tests to find the overabundant T-cells that are causing this particular problem…we’d do it.
I recommend a patient try simple things first. How about some OTC artificial tears? But when you look at the shelf with a huge number of options you might think, how in the heck do I pick one of those? I bet your eye doctor gave you a sample. Why not buy that first? Be regular and routine with it. It’s not a magical drop like pixie dust! Use it regularly if you really have regular problems. Right?! Nonpreserved artificial tears probably are best but nothing wrong with giving the preserved kind a try unless your doctor recommended otherwise.
One more thing about this thread and some of what people were asking. Frequently a patient has a significant enough problem with dry eye that we might insert these little stoppers (punctal plugs for example) in the tear duct (punctum is the medical name of that part). The reason for the plugs is to keep what little tears a patient has in the eye longer so they don’t drain out as quickly. If a patient just happens to be the one with those little inflammatory causing T-cells, those plugs will keep those inflammatory molecules in the eye longer and might make the problem a bit worse. And then if you still have the plugs and start using Restasis you’re fighting a problem that was possibly made worse by having plugs inserted in the first place. Trial and error is unfortunately a part of a “practice.”
Bottom line, please read more than one forum! I wish I could explain more about all this but do a little extra research and don’t jump to any conclusions too quickly! There are a lot of things that can help dry eye but maybe this one forum I read wasn’t the best source to answer questions about dry eyes and Restasis. Anecdotes are how bad rumors start!
Try webmd.com for example. And remember, your eyes are connected to your body and there can be a systemic cause for dry eye. Be sure you mention any symptoms when getting your health checked!