Jacqueline W. Muller, MD Demos New Technology for the Diagnosis and Management of Dry Eye

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Many people with dry eye can no longer comfortably wear contact lenses and would prefer not to wear eyeglasses; these people therefore pursue laser vision correction (LASIK, LASEK, PRK, etc.).

Dry eye is one of the most common reasons for which people visit their eye doctor. A person may not know that dry eye is their diagnosis, but rather they may schedule an appointment because they are experiencing redness, burning, a sandy-gritty irritation, discomfort, tired eyes or intermittent blurry vision. The prevalence of dry eye has increased dramatically over the last three decades in part due to an increase in contact lens wear, air travel, air pollution and our ever increasing use of technology (computers, tablets, etc.).

Jacqueline W. Muller, M.D., a New York City ophthalmologist who specializes in both dry eye and laser vision correction, recently evaluated her patients using a new technology from Tearlab. The Tearlab Osmolarity System measures the osmolarity of the eye’s tear film; this is important as tear hyperosmolarity is central to all forms of dry eye. In addition, a difference in inter-eye (the difference between the two eyes) osmolarity is the hallmark of tear film instability.

“Dry eye is a chronic, progressive condition. Having an objective tool to aid in its diagnosis and management would be extremely beneficial to my patients,” Dr. Muller said.

Tear hyperosmolarity can be used, not only to diagnose dry eye, but also to monitor the efficacy of its treatment. Dr. Muller explains “it’s analogous to measuring a person’s cholesterol level. Once high cholesterol is diagnosed, therapy can be implemented and, on a going forward basis, the person’s cholesterol level can be monitored and treatment adjusted accordingly.” To have an objective tool to diagnose dry eye, quantify its severity and help monitor the efficacy of specific dry eye treatments, would be invaluable.

Another cohort of patients who could potentially benefit from this technology are those people who have dry eye and are interested in pursuing laser vision correction. Many people with dry eye can no longer comfortably wear contact lenses and would prefer not to wear eyeglasses; these people therefore look toward laser vision correction (LASIK, LASEK, PRK, etc.).

Approximately 85% of people who opt for laser vision correction have some form of dry eye. Dr. Muller explains: “It’s a skewed patient population that is self-selecting in that these are often people who dislike wearing eyeglasses and therefore have been wearing their contact lens most of their waking hours. Then, as their dry eye progressively worsens, they can no longer comfortably wear their contact lenses. This is especially true for people who spend many hours in front of a computer, an activity that is particularly drying for one’s eyes.”

The good news is that having pre-existing dry eye does not preclude a person from having a successful laser vision correction procedure. “As long as an individual is appropriately evaluated pre-operatively, and their dry eye is properly diagnosed and treated prior to, and following, their laser vision correction, everything should go beautifully. Tear Osmolarity testing could be extremely helpful in this group of patients.”

Dr. Muller looks forward to working with this new technology further in an effort to better elucidate its clinical applications and usefulness.

Jacqueline W. Muller, MD is a Cornell, Harvard and Yale educated and trained board certified ophthalmologist whose New York City practice focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of Dry Eye and in Laser Vision Correction (LASIK, LASEK, PRK , refractive surgery). She has been featured on the Today show because of her expertise. She holds an attending staff appointment at The NY Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and a teaching appointment at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Muller is a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and the Medical Strollers of New York City. She is a Weill Cornell Medical College Alumni Association Board Member and a founding participant of the Nantucket Project. More information on laser vision correction and dry eye can be found at http://www.laser-eye-surgery.com and http://www.dryeyespecialist.com.

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