Dry eye and surgery

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
November 13, 2007 9:00:00 PM PST
More and more people are having corrective eye surgery.But dry eye syndrome can make recovering from the surgery more difficult, and may even disqualify some people.

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg and the small drops that are making a big difference in detecting the problem.

Imagine sandpaper scraping across your eyeball.

That's how doctors described dry eye syndrome to Mary Liggett.

"It's kind of a grittiness and an itchiness," she said. "But then if you rub, it's kind of a grittiness and there will be like a discharge in your eye."

Mary has Sjogren's Syndrome, a condition that affects the body's moisture producing glands. One of the side effects is dry eyes.

"I might be crying and boo-hooing up a storm, but I just didn't have enough moisture to produce tears," Liggett said.

Ophthalmologist James McCulley uses a Lissamine green vital stain compound to detect dry eye syndrome.

"It stains cells that have either died or dried out," he said.

Dr. McCulley believes this stain is the key to detecting dry eye early, before the problem gets worse.

"If it is an early dry eye, the part of the ocular surface to stain is the white of the eye near the nose," he said. "The next stage in development of severity is add to that staining of the white of the eye out toward the ear. And the third is the cornea."

"It's just a momentary sting when they first put it in. but it's interesting, because the world changes colors," Liggett said.

Artificial tear drops are the most common treatment for dry eye. If untreated, dry eye can lead to infections and vision problems.

"Before I got my eyes back under control, trying to do something this tiny would have been impossible for me to see," Liggett said.

But now, she's seeing clearly again.

More than 10 million Americans don't have enough moisture in their eyes. Crying without tears and always feeling you have something in your eye can be signs you are suffering from dry eye syndrome.