There’s something to be said for finding a doctor you like and sticking with him or her. That goes for eye doctors too. Over time, that doctor will get to know you and track your health each time you visit. And, continuity is tops when it comes to better healthcare. At Advanced Eyecare Optometry, we know from personal experience what a plus it is to see patients visit after visit.
Continuity is Tops
When you see your eye doctor for repeat visits, it helps us figure out what is going on with a patient’s complaints of dry or irritated eyes, for instance. A middle-aged person complained that their eyes were “dry, gritty and puffy at times,” we remember and had two main questions we wanted to investigate more.
The first question was if the patient was actually suffering from dry eye syndrome. This condition, which you might have seen pharmaceutical ads about, is a chronic disorder. The eyes simply don’t produce enough lubricating moisture to keep them comfortable. It can be painful, annoying, and even cause eye tissue scarring – and that’s not good for vision.
The second question was whether the dry eye was actually due to something more systemic – hyperthyroidism. It’s where the thyroid gland produces too much of the important hormone. And, our patient had mentioned having hyperthyroidism during their initial medical history discussion with us. The condition can trigger dry eye, on top of other things.
So, we took a careful look at the corneas, the transparent front part of the eye. We did indeed find several signs of hyperthyroidism-related dry eye syndrome. Lack of moisture, inflammation and irritation were big clues. So was the slight bulging of her eyeball that was caused by the tissue swelling.
Easier Diagnosis and Treatment
Fortunately, making the connection between the dry eye and the underlying disorder made the eye problem easier to treat. Initially, we prescribed lubricating eye drops. Two weeks later, we checked their progress and prescribed an eye ointment for use at bedtime.
Given a few months of treatment, our patient saw improvement. Their eyes were more comfortable. They also had escaped the corneal scarring that tag along with dry eye syndrome. The risk here is that scarring caused by untreated thyroid-related dry eye can sometimes erode vision, or even destroy it. But that didn’t happen with this patient. As a matter of fact, we just saw them again yesterday for their annual checkup and they told us they’re experiencing very little discomfort. And they’re seeing well with a minimum of eye medications.
For us, the experience emphasizes the importance of that yearly eye exam, especially with patients who have an underlying medical condition. Because I know this patient’s history, I can observe them year to year and make sure we protect their precious eyesight!
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