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Post #1 - Naming Dry Eye

Welcome to Valley Eye Clinic’s Dry Eye Blog. This is our first entry! I want to thank you for taking the time to further educate yourself on ocular surface disease. You’re taking a vital first step in relieving your own symptoms!

I thought it would be important to start with simply looking at how we talk about dry eye and ocular surface disease. You may read online things about dry eye AND ocular surface disease, and think to yourself “Is there a difference? Is it one in the same?” I’ve personally been one to use either name, but our profession as a whole is coming to understand the need to be more clear and consistent when we address this chronic progressive issue.

In the past, a common question presented to patients may have been something like “Do you have dry eye?” This is actually not the right approach to addressing the issue. DRY EYE IS SIMPLY A SYMPTOM of something much larger, much greater going on. Rather than asking if you have dry eye, we should be asking questions like, “Do your eyes feel uncomfortable? Does your vision fluctuate throughout the day. Do your eyes FEEL dry?” Filling out a questionnaire like the SPEED questionnaire or the OSDI index on our website is a better approach to gain information on SYMPTOMS such as dry eye, which is part of ocular surface disease.

So, in the room with patients, I might say, “Ms. Jones, your fluctuating vision throughout the day, the SYMPTOMS of dryness and uncomfortable eyes, along with the fact that you constantly are adding rewetting drops indicate that you have ocular surface disease. Further evidence is the SIGNS of ocular surface disease, which can lead to the SYMPTOM of dryness, grittiness, etc.

It’s definitely a needed shift in our industry to move away from diagnosing dry eye (AGAIN, just a symptom) to the diagnosis of ocular surface disease. The more education we can give, which means spending time answering questions, performing ocular surface disease evaluations, and educating our patients will result in not only better understanding, but likely better relief and outcomes as patients understand more of what ocular surface disease truly is.

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