This month we sat down with our very own leader and pioneer in the field of Dry Eye disease, Paul Karpecki OD, FAAO, Director of Corneal Services at the Kentucky Eye Institute, to talk more about Ocular Surface Disease, commonly known as dry eye. Ocular redness is a common condition that can be caused by inflammation of almost any part of the eye. According to the American Optometric Association, “It has been estimated that 5 million Americans over the age of 50 years have dry eye, and 25% of the US population reports or suffers from dry eyes or some abnormality of the exposed ocular surface.” Ocular redness can be caused by our everyday habits of using digital devices use such as tablets, smartphones, and computers. Dr. Karpecki takes us below the surface, providing us with his professional insights into the common causes, treatment options, and tips on what we can do to combat Ocular Surface Disease.

Q: As Director of Corneal Services at Kentucky Eye Institute, what services do you offer to patients?
A: Medical cornea to be specific, although I would say that a focus of the services is in the field of Ocular Surface Diseases, such as dry eye.

Q: Could someone have Dry Eye Disease if their eyes don’t feel dry?
A: Yes, there is something called Down-Regulation where the nerves decrease their output so to speak so that the person is no longer in chronic pain. There is also a form known as Neurotrophic Dry Eye where patient’s nerves are damaged, although they have significant dry eye issues. Patients with this will often notice blurred vision but not the typical dry, gritty, burning eyes. This can be caused by a virus such as Shingles.

Q: What are some common causes of ocular redness?
A: Simple irritation of the eyes can cause redness, which includes mild allergies or
early dry eye. One of the most common causes is what’s termed meibomian gland dysfunction (blockage or some other abnormality of the meibomian glands so they do not secrete enough oil into the tears), often caused by digital device use such as tablets, smartphones and computers.

Q: Are there things people could be doing to make their dry, red eyes worse?
A: As mentioned extensive digital device use because when we are on one of these we tend to blink about 75% less and the oil glands don’t work as well. Long-term antihistamine use or other medications that dry eye eyes can worsen the redness.

Q: What are your number one tip for you patients in caring for their eyes?
A: Be preventative because dry eye is a chronic and progressive disease. Once it sets in, it’s a long duration disease that is difficult to slow so using warm hydrating compresses, taking breaks from computers and digital devices and eating a healthy diet all can help fend off dry eye disease.

Preventative Tips for Dry Eye:
1. Use a humidifier in the winter.
2. Give your eyes a rest.
3. Avoid too much air movement.
4. Avoid cigarette smoke.

Q: What does life look like for Dr. Karpecki outside of KEI?
A: Family! We had three children in two years, that pretty much is where all the fun lies right now.

If you have symptoms of Ocular Redness please call Kentucky Eye Institute to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor today.

First and Only Over-the-Counter Eye Drop for Ocular Redness

Bausch + Lomb, a leading global eye health company, recently released a press release in December that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Lumify (brimonidine tartrate ophthalmic solution 0.025%) as the first and only over-the-counter (OTC) eye drop developed for the treatment of ocular redness. Having experience in the field of Dry Eye Disease for more than 20 years, Dr. Karpecki was featured in Bausch + Lomb’s press release on Lumify. He stated, “Patients with eye redness and irritation can experience negative social connotations, which may impact daily life. Having a drop that reduces redness without the side effects of rebound hyperemia or tachyphylaxis, which may lead to overuse and potential corneal toxicity, is a very exciting option that I look forward to recommending to my patients.”

Click here to view the Bausch + Lomb press release.

For more information on Ocular Surface Disease/dry eye and other eye questions, call the Kentucky Eye Institute to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor today. Our optometrists and ophthalmologists are located in Lexington, Corbin, Cynthiana, Jackson, Maysville, Middlesboro, Morehead, Mt. Sterling, Paintsville, and Versailles.