"It's painful. It really gets painful," March told Ivanhoe.
"We're seeing more of dry eye for several reasons," Joseph Eviatar, M.D., Medical Director of Chelsea Eye and Cosmetic Surgery Associates in New York, N.Y., told Ivanhoe. "Everything from environmental pollutants to ocular surgeries such as LASIK."
Dr. Eviatar is using intense pulsed light therapy, or IPL, to treat dry eye.
"The applicator is just put in along the lid margin," Dr. Eviatar explained. "We generally do two passes."
The light acts as a warm compress that unplugs glands, allowing tears to flow. It also reduces the inflammation.
"So unlike just using supplemental drops -- which really doesn't treat the condition, it just helps with the symptoms -- the light therapy actually helps the cause of dry eye," Dr. Eviatar said.
In one study of 100 patients who didn't respond to drops or other treatments, all reported some relief from light therapy, and it lasted for four to six months. Doctors say patients typically need four treatments over the course of a year. Each one costs about $250. Susan Tompkin says that's less than she was paying for the drops she used six times a day, which still didn't relieve the problem.
"Like you've just come off the beach and someone kicked sand in your face," Tompkin explained. "That was really the feeling I had. It's scratchy. They burn. They're red."
She's had two light treatments so far.
"I began to certainly feel a difference within a few weeks, and I didn't need to get up every hour to put drops in," Tompkin recalled.
She can now sit still and focus.
"I'm making a tunic sweater," Tompkin said.
And finish her cross-stitch without the constant interruption.
"It's nice to do and not have to think about my eyes," Tompkin said.
Doctors say the new therapy works best on people with light skin. After the first four treatments, patients typically need to come in for one session a year for maintenance.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Chelsea Eye & Cosmetic Surgery Associates