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Healthy Living: Do you suffer from dry eyes?

Updated: May. 11, 2021 at 10:59 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Sallye Werner is no stranger to getting her eyes checked. She was 15 when she started wearing hard contacts. Now, a retired middle school teacher, she remembers when she had to give up contacts and go to glasses.

“I’d be sitting in a conference, you know a conference for a kid with the parents and all of a sudden it was like a piece of sand would get in my eye and I’d be sitting there and the tears would be rolling down my cheeks,” she said.

Werner was suffering from dry eyes. Dr. Laura Kompkoff, a Neuro-Optometrist at Katmai Eye and Vision Center, said when you hear the term “dry eyes,” it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it can be.

“Those patients are very uncomfortable. Their eyes can feel very uncomfortable when they wake up in the morning, their eyes can feel horrible and it’s already hard enough to get the day started, but to have your eyes feeling terrible, it’s even worse,” she explained.

Kompkoff said many people suffer from it and there are ways to treat dry eyes aside from just using drops. Like in Werner’s case where she’s Kompkoff’s patient and having treatment done to help her dry eyes.

“What we’re doing with treatment is actually getting the glands intensive heat and massage to get them jump-started to actually start to pump out the oils we need to prevent tear evaporation,” said Kompkoff.

“I saw improvement right after the very first one,” added Werner.

Dry eyes are something you can physically feel, but Kompkoff said a lot of eye issues are silent.

“There’s not a lot of symptoms to them, so if eye pressure is elevating we’re not going to feel that so you have to come in for routine checks to make sure that that’s okay. Vision is about how our brain is interpreting what our eyes are seeing, how the eyes are working together, our depth perception, tracking peripheral, you can go on and on and those need to be assessed to make you the most comfortable with your visual system with whatever you’re doing throughout the day,” said Kompkoff.

“I have always gone and I truly believe in getting a yearly check-up. I don’t want to mess with my vision. I want to keep it,” said Werner.

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