Q: How do I know if I have Dry Eye?
A: Dry eye syndrome can only be diagnosed by an eye doctor. We take your symptoms into account, including the eyes feeling dry, burning, itchy or irritated. Watery eyes and blurry vision are also common because the tears, which protect the outermost surface of the eye, can be unstable.
Q: What are the typical treatments used to help people suffering from Dry Eyes?
A: Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause, severity, and stage of the disease. Artificial tears can be helpful in the early stages. If over-the-counter eye drops are insufficient, we progress to a prescription medication such as Restasis or Xiidra. Lid hygiene as well as omega-3 fish oil supplementation can improve symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications as well as punctal plugs are also available if needed for treatment.
Q: How will I know if my child's amblyopia is getting better? Is it too late to help if the problem is detected after age 6?
A: Lazy eye will not go away on its own. We have what is called electrodiagnostic testing which can determine the effectiveness of amblyopia treatment without relying on the response of the child to "tell" us how well they are seeing. Oftentimes, parents worry that the eye exam is not accurate if their child is not old enough to read the chart or is uncooperative due to anxiety surrounding an eye exam. This test is non-invasive and fast (30 minutes) and can be done right here in our office for patients of all ages, starting in infancy. We can track over time how the therapy is working and the prognosis of their vision.
Q: Today it seems that many children are very quickly diagnosed as learning disabled or dyslexic. Does vision play a role?
A: In some cases a large undetected prescription (farsightedness or astigmatism) or an eye muscle imbalance (binocular vision problem) can make reading and learning a challenge. Once properly diagnosed and treated, reading and learning tasks can become much more comfortable, visually.
Q: What is Vision Therapy?
A: Vision therapy is an individualized treatment plan prescribed by a Doctor of Optometry. It is used to treat eye conditions, such as strabismus (eye turn) or amblyopia (“lazy eye”). Through Vision Therapy, a Doctor of Optometry also teaches, improves and/or reinforces important visual skills, such as eye tracking, eye focusing and eye teaming abilities. Without these visual skills, simple tasks like reading or copying notes from the board become difficult. Skipping words or lines while reading, using a finger while reading, blurry near vision, double vision, eyestrain and/or eye fatigue are also common symptoms.
Interview with Dr. Rapp
What do you find interesting about dry eyes?
Everybody has some amount of eye dryness, whether it’s enough to affect their day-to-day life or just temporarily. So it’s a way that I can specifically improve someone’s daily life. And the reason I got into it a little bit more is because I used to work in the Bronx with a very poor population. Dry eye in the community was very bad due to environmental factors and other things.
I started learning about different techniques to relieve dry eye. Before that, even at my very first job out of optometry school, I worked in nursing homes, and I didn’t feel like I could make so much of a difference in those patients’ lives, whether it was monitoring their glaucoma or something else. But every single person in the nursing home had severe dry eyes. So that’s where I realized that I could help improve the quality of life for those patients. That was the thing I wanted to focus on the most.
So I’ve learned different techniques and not just giving eye drops and saying, use this as needed. There’s like a stepwise approach that we start with a Level 1. If that doesn’t work, move on to level two. And the more we keep learning about what causes dry eyes, the more I want to keep getting involved and keep up-to- date with whatever’s new.