According to the National Eye Institute, a total of 16 million Americans suffer from dry eye, which can present as blurry vision, scratchy feelings, and red eyes. If left untreated, dry eye can lead to eye inflammation, abrasion to the corneal surface, and even vision loss. That’s why the retinal specialists and ophthalmologists at VRMNY, Vitreous Retina Macula Consultants of New York, are using cutting-edge technology to treat patients with dry eye. VRMNY is the largest retina practice in the NY metropolitan area and specializes in retinal diseases and other eye conditions.
In this interview with TechBullion, Dr. William Hogue will be weighing in on VRMNY’s unique treatment methods and VRMNY’s specialized offerings to treat patients with dry eye.
Please tell us more about yourself.
I am originally from Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee (UT) with a degree in chemistry. I then moved to Boston to attend the New England College of Optometry (NECO) where I received my Doctorate of Optometry (OD) and Master of Science (MS). I have lived in New York City for a little over a year now.
What does a typical day look like for you at work? Could you give us a walkthrough of your services at VRMNY?
I provide primary eye care services in conjunction with our retinal specialists. I take care of patients with a wide variety of eye conditions, especially dry eyes. We have some of the most updated technologies available to image both the front surface of the eye with respect to dryness and the back of the eye, the retina. The retina specialists at this practice focus on surgical and medical management of the retina, but have also begun to take an interest in dry eye.
Regarding dry eye, what are the causes, the symptoms and effects of dry eye on human health?
One of the most common causes of dry eye is a decrease in the blink reflex due to increased screen time. When we stare at our computers we blink about 40% less. This leads to the oil glands in our eyelids called the meibomian glands becoming clogged. Without the proper oil component to our tear film, the tears can evaporate too quickly. The symptoms of dry eye can vary widely. The most common symptoms are a dry gritty sensation, a foreign body sensation, intermittent blurry vision, and tearing. The cornea is extremely sensitive as the density of nerve endings is greater than anywhere else in the body.
Could you give us an overview of the state of retinal diseases and other eye conditions in America, how big the problem is and the challenges with the treatments available?
Diabetes remains a prevalent issue in America. Diabetic retinopathy remains a leading cause of retinal pathology. In America, we are able to offer the latest technologies in diagnosis and treatment, but the types of treatments available are often limited by what insurance companies will allow. As in other parts of the world such as Europe and East Asia, America is dealing with an increased prevalence of nearsightedness (myopia). Nearsightedness leads to the elongation of the eyeball which can lead to complications such as retinal holes, tears, and detachments.
What specialized offerings and unique solutions does VRMNY provide to treat patients with dry eye?
We offer a wide variety of services treating dry eye. The first step is determining the underlying cause of the dryness. From there we can recommend prescription drops or in-office treatments. We offer treatments such as Lipiflow which is a mechanical expression of the oil glands in the eyelids, Blephex which is a way to clean the base of the eyelashes, and punctal occlusion which blocks the drainage of tears from the eyes.
Tell us more about your technology, how it works and how VRMNY is using the latest technological advancements to treat the source of dry eye, rather than treating its symptoms?
Artificial tears are an important part of treating dry eye, but they do not do much to treat the underlying cause. Essentially there are two types of dry eye. Dry eye caused by a lack of tears and dry eye caused by a blockage of the oil glands in the eyes. We have the latest imaging technology to assess the health of the oil glands in the eyelids. After assessing these images we can best recommend which treatments I discussed earlier are best suited for each patient.
Why is early detection and treatment of dry eye and other eye diseases so critical?
Dry eye is best addressed when it starts. As the eye becomes more dry it can be more difficult to get the patient feeling better. The oil glands begin to die off if they stay clogged for a long period of time. This leads to a worsening of the dryness. Many other conditions of the eye such as glaucoma do not have any symptoms associated with them. The only way to know and be treated before it starts to affect your vision is to see an eye doctor.
Can you tell us about the retinal specialists and ophthalmologists at VRMNY, and what makes VRMNY stand out in the industry?
The retina specialists at VRMNY are at the forefront of the field, using the latest technology and developments to treat patients.
Are there any use cases or success stories you would like to share with us about your services and medical technologies?
From my perspective, the best success stories have come from detecting potentially blinding conditions such as glaucoma and retinal tears in patients who were asymptomatic.
What are the best practices to keep a healthy eye? Do you have any other tips for our readers today?
Taking care of your general health is one of the most important steps in taking care of your eyes. Diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure have a detrimental impact on the health of the eye from contributing to dry eye to leading to decreased vision. I also recommend all my patients take frequent breaks from working on their computers. I recommend the 20/20/20 rule where every 20 minutes you look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Finally, it is important to get a yearly eye exam.
For more information, visit the VRMNY website: https://www.vrmny.com/