Why Treatment is the Last Thing Dry Eye Patients Need

There are no shortages of easy-to-find, over-the-counter Dry Eye treatments. Just go to your local pharmacy and check out the staggering variety of lubricating drops they offer. But are those drops really what you need?

There are no shortages of doctors who treat Dry Eye either. Ophthalmologists, optometrists, even primary care physicians. It’s easy enough to find one and get some sort of diagnosis. They’ll typically prescribe one of the standard treatments. You already know what those are. Lubricating drops, warm compresses, anti-inflammatory drops, lid wipes. These will help a lot of patients. But not everyone will find relief.

Why Treatment is the Last Thing Dry Eye Patients Need

Finding a doctor with more that just the typical tools in his medicine bag is a bit harder. In many parts of the world, including the US, those doctors just don’t exist. Patients sometimes end up travelling hundreds – or even thousands – of miles for the care they need.

Sometimes the treatments work. Sometimes they don’t. Why not?

Because treatment is the last thing Dry Eye patients need. Yes, the last. And that should come as no surprise.

Crack Team of Doctors

Have you ever watched the medical drama House? According to IMDb, House is “an antisocial maverick doctor who specializes in diagnostic medicine [and] does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way using his crack team of doctors and his wits.”

An Accurate Diagnosis - The First Thing Dry Eye Patients Need
Dr. House and His Crack Team of Diagnosticians

In just about every episode, a patient shows up at the hospital with strange symptoms. Dr. House and his team examine the patient. They listen to the patient’s story, run a bunch of tests, and pronounce a diagnosis. Then they prescribe something. The first treatment usually doesn’t work. They realize they’ve misdiagnosed the patient. It’s a medical mystery.

The team reconvenes, ponders, discusses, and gets yelled at by Dr. House. What is this a sign of? What is that a sign of? Could it be this? Could it be that? Let’s run some more tests. After a few more nail-biting tries, Dr. House finally has an aha moment. He figures out what all of those strange symptoms mean and pronounces a different diagnosis. Then, finally, the patient gets the right treatment and begins to improve. We, the audience, breathe a collective sigh of relief and the episode ends.

The First Thing Every Dry Eye Patient Needs

So what’s the first thing Dry Eye patients need?

The answer is, a diagnosis.

But not just any kind of diagnosis. What Dry Eye patients really need first is a thorough, comprehensive, and accurate diagnosis that accounts for every symptom.

Every burn, every pain, every discomfort. All of them.

Then, after the doctor has a complete understanding of a patient’s symptoms and what’s causing all of them, treatment –  that’s effective –  can start. Dr. House would probably agree.

This process, incidentally, is what should happen during every first appointment or follow-up visit thereafter. What’s going on? What do you feel? What does it mean?

It’s a pretty well accepted process, followed by most good practitioners and expert diagnosticians, just like Dr. House.

Treatment is the Last Thing Dry Eye Patients Need

They start with a diagnosis. Then they refine that diagnosis as things progress.

It’s no different with Dry Eye doctors. The really good ones start with a comprehensive diagnosis. They may already have some idea about what’s going on based just on your symptoms. But the tests they administer give a more comprehensive picture, which leads to an even more precise diagnosis.

Then finally, after that all-important accurate diagnosis, effective treatment – the last thing Dry Eye patients need – can start.

To everyone who tried to register for the Dry Eye Retreat, we apologize for any inconvenience.

The event has been cancelled. 

Send your questions and comments to blogger@notadryeye.org.

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