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Article Date: 4/1/2014

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Dry Eye Disease: Are You Actively Looking for It?

This, among other ocular surface diseases, is the low hanging fruit when it comes to medical disease management.

BY SCOT MORRIS, O.D., F.A.A.O.
Chief Optometric Editor

Each of us will look at close to 200,000 ocular surfaces in our careers. That’s a lot of eyes. The health of all those eyes is our responsibility to enhance, monitor and protect. The question is, are we doing everything we can to accomplish this? I would argue the answer is “no” as dry eye disease (DED), the most common form of ocular surface disease and the topic of this month’s issue, is often overlooked.

Many patients, little diagnosis

Through the years, I have spent a lot of hours on the podium teaching about DED. In this time, I have seen more patients with the condition than I can count. I never fail to be amazed by how many people suffer from this disease in one form or another.

When you really start asking the right questions, such as do your eyes burn and water?, and perform DED testing on these patients, you’ll be astounded by the amount of diagnoses too. The problem: Not enough O.D.s are doing this.

DED’s importance

Some of you may be thinking: “Isn’t our major focus supposed to be helping people see better?”

To this, I respond: “What is the first refracting surface of the eye? The answer is the ocular surface. The ocular surface is important in visual quality and clarity, as well as in the overall health of the eye.” Therefore, the diagnosis and treatment of DED is of critical importance for providing optimum vision.

In addition, the condition is the low hanging fruit when it comes to medical disease management: Show patients you can diagnose and treat DED, and they’ll see you for other medical eye care, such as AMD.

Something else to consider: Managing this disease takes no more than a slit lamp (I am guessing most of us have one of these), some fluorescein or lissamine green strips, a little patience and the desire to provide excellent eye care.

DED in OM

Optometrist William Townsend kicks off this month’s issue by furthering the discussion on the prevalence of DED and explaining the latest technology in diagnosis and treatment in the feature article “Make Dry Eye a Priority,” page 16.

Optometrist Mark Ventocilla supports Dr. Townsend’s article by talking about the various systemic diseases associated with DED and their treatment protocols in the feature article “Systemic Disease-Induced DED,” page 21.

And rounding out our issue-themed features is “The Emerging Pipeline of Dry Eye Treatments,” written by William L. Miller, O.D., page 26.

Other must-reads: “Get in the Cone Zone: Part 1,” page 30 (I’ve had great success in fitting mini-scleral lenses), “Diversify Your Portfolio: OSD: A Practice Builder,” page 40, “Nutrition: Eating for Dry Eye,” page 42 and an interview with Allergan Vice President David LeCause.

It’s time our entire profession expand its knowledge on DED and start actively looking for it in patients. By failing to do so, patients suffer needlessly, and practices miss out on the related personal and financial rewards. Now, that is worth paying attention to. OM



Optometric Management, Volume: 49 , Issue: April 2014, page(s): 2

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