ASK YOUR PHARMACIST
Eamonn Brady is a pharmacist and the owner of Whelehans Pharmacy, Pearse St, Mullingar. If you have any health questions e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a continuation of our article in the Westmeath Examiner on dry eyes. This week I discuss treatment options. Many cases of dry eyes is caused by medication (both prescription or over the counter) such as anti-histamines, blood pressure medication, some anti-depressants anti-inflammatory medicines. Where medicines are causing severe dry eye problems, you can discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if there are alternative options that do not cause the problem (eg. newer anti-depressants do not cause as many dry eyes issues). In some cases there is no safe alternative. In these cases, artificial tears are the only effective treatment option.
Your GP, pharmacist or optician can advise on drops, ointments and gels. They are available without prescription at your pharmacy. They replicate the role of natural tears. Drops are often used during the day (eg. three times daily) and an ointment or gel is used at night as they are thicker and tend to last for longer while you sleep. There is no evidence that one brand is any more effective than the next; though preservative free versions are recommended by some eye specialists to reduce the risk of preservative causing irritation (though these are more expensive). Contacts lens should not be used with artificial tears; if they must be used, use preservative free artificial tears and hold off inserting contact lens for 30 minutes after using the artificial tears. Always use artificial tears at a different time from other prescribed eye drops (eg. glaucoma drops, antibiotic eye drops) as the artificial tears will dilute or wash away the other drops. Artificial tears are available on the Medical Card Scheme and the Drug Payment Scheme with doctor’s prescription.
This is done by a specialist and involves reversible blocking of the punctual ducts to block the release of excess tears (which occurs due to the eye trying to over compensate). The tear duct plugs used can be either semi-permanent (silicone) or dissolvable. Punctal occlusion does not work for everyone and should only be considered when artificial tears fail to work.
Can omega 3 or omega 7 help?
Studies indicate that a diet rich in Omega 3 oils can reduce ease dry eye symptoms. I have seen cases of omega 3 supplements helping people suffering from dry eyes. For people who do not eat sufficient oily fish, I recommend a fish oil supplement called MorEPA® as it contains the highest level of pure omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) of any fish oil supplement. Some people find and there is some evidence that Omega 7 supplements relieve dry eyes; I will discuss Omega 7 in the coming weeks in the Westmeath Examiner. Supplements are not meant as a substitute for medical assessment and should not replace prescription medication.
This article is shortened to fit within Newspaper space limits. More detailed information and leaflets is available in Whelehans