- As many as 49 million Americans have dry eyes.
- Google searches for “dry eye syndrome" doubled between December 2010 and July 2020.
- Global dry eye treatments are expected to top $6.6 billion by end of 2027.
- Statistic Source: Dry Eye Directory
Ever have stinging, burning, red, light-sensitive, blurry, gritty-feeling eyes? Those could be signs of evaporative dry eye disease (DED), a prevalent problem that many eye patients battle. Siepser Eyecare optometrists and specialists recognized this pervasive issue seven years ago and took action to help patients develop customized treatments. Additionally, the Siepser staff is elevating patient assistance to new levels this fall by launching an official Dry Eye Center of Excellence at their Wayne office, located at 860 East Swedesford Road.
Founder of the company, Steven Siepser, M.D., F.A.C.S., says the advanced, dedicated center and a new eyecare community initiative are elements of observing the practice's 40th business anniversary this year.
DED negatively impacts one's vision, overall health and productivity; left untreated, it can cause infections, impairments, permanent eye damage and a diminished quality of daily life.
Siepser's Michelle Pendrak Bush, O.D., is leading operational aspects for the center of excellence. She also manages primary vision care for patients of all ages, as well as provides post-operative care for many of Dr. Siepser’s surgical patients. She graduated from Pennsylvania College Of Optometry in 2008.
"We're super excited about doubling-down on the space we're dedicating to help those with dry eyes," Dr. Pendrak Bush says, citing that they will offer new light therapies.
As one of the region’s leading doctors treating the challenging origins of dry eye, she says 86 percent of DED cases are caused by clogged oil glands in eyelids. "The treatments we used to have for DED should have lasted about a year, but often only helped four to six months. It was so frustrating not to be able to do more for patients. Now we can!"
The new light therapies will offer low level as well as intense pulse options. "They're masks with the light devices built-in, and we use them to improve cellular metabolism to keep the glands unclogged, and to wipe out the bad flora living on eyelashes and lids," says Dr. Pendrak Bush. "These new therapies have wonderful anti-aging benefits, too, such as minimizing puffy eyes, decreasing red splotches and making skin look great."
Based on data from the most current National Health and Wellness Survey, 6.8 percent of the U.S. adult population (approximately 16.4 million people) have been diagnosed with DED, also referenced as dysfunctional tear syndrome. The prevalence increased with age (2.7 percent in those 18 to 34 years old versus 18.6 percent in those 75 years old or older), and was higher in women than men.
"Humans typically blink at a rate of 16 to 18 times per minute. But with increased computer work and screen time on personal devices, we blink more like only four times a minute. That leads to less tears hydrating our eyes. Stress, too much caffeine, contact lenses, allergens, certain sleep patterns, environmental factors and medicines for chronic illnesses also contribute to dry eyes," Dr. Pendrak Bush explains.
She says the new equipment and techniques also will address the root causes of ocular rosacea.
Eye Care Program for Community Individuals
One of Siepser Eyecare's new community outreach programs is helping establish a working eye exam lane at Community Volunteers in Medicine, a free healthcare center in West Chester. Maureen Tomoschuk, CVIM president and CEO, says they provide medical care, hope and healing to uninsured, low-income families in the Chester County region from the facility at 300-B Lawrence Dr.
Spearheading CVIM's new community eye care effort is Siepser's Rocio Pasion, O.D., who discovered a long waiting list of patients and antiquated, non-functioning equipment when she went to the clinic about a year ago. "We're reaching out to our resources to get a slit lamp, phoropter, projector and loose lenses case for the clinic. We're also seeking O.D/M.D. volunteers to conduct free eye exams at CVIM, along with those who can provide reduced surgical fees for CVIM’s underserved patient base," she adds.
Dr. Pasion is a board-certified optometrist specializing in primary care, low vision and specialty contact lens fitting. She evaluates and co-manages diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma. She graduated from Pennsylvania College Of Optometry in 1999. She's fluent in Spanish and enjoys exercising this language with patients. She says she's enthused about not needing a translator for Spanish-speaking CVIM patients.
"Our goal is to set up a proper eye exam space at the clinic. Right now, eye-related diagnostics there are scattered, including conducting exams in the hallway. We're eager to diagnose, treat, manage and educate patients there," she declares.
To contact the center, visit CVIM.org or call [English: 610.836.5990, extension 122 | Spanish 610.836.5990, extension 148].
Maureen says CVIM is committed to providing comprehensive services to the vulnerable patients they serve. "We appreciate very much the Siepser Eyecare partnership to help us address our patients’ eye care needs,” she adds.
An estimated 4.88 million Americans age 50 and older have dry eyes. Of these, more than 3 million are women and 1.68 million are men. ~Healthline Media