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It sounds like you are getting excellent care with the ophthalmologist that you are currently seeing. While I can believe that your problems have been going on for years I do not think that the trip to Vail is what has caused it.
It sounds like you are suffering from an anterior segment/tear film issue. Many times, as we get older, the anterior surface of the eye starts to have difficulties. What can cause this? Well, there are a number of conditions but the most common are dry eyes (sounds like you are getting some treatment for this already) allergies and blepharitis....many times all three conditions act together to make you miserable. In order to solve your problem you need to address all of these issues at the same time.
so is this something that will resolve itself if I follow the protocol
I think your ophthalmologist only has you addressing one of the causes...you should attack all 3 of them at once:
When it comes to allergies it is almost impossible to pin down the offending agent(s) and, therefore, treatment needs to focus on controlling the symptoms. Dry eyes are very common and can be improved by a stepwise series of therapies. First, the use of natural tears 4-6+ times/day to augment your natural tear production, if this doesn’t work then you can try temporary punctal occlusion of the lower puncta, then, if needed, temporary occlusion of all 4 puncta then, if indicated, surgical ( non-reversible) closure of the puncta. The openings to your tear drainage system are called puncta and you have one opening on each lid, near your nose.
Blepharitis is a condition where glands in the eyelids are not functioning normally. They become plugged and instead of putting out their normal clear, oily secretions, they put out thick, toothpaste like gunk. You may not be able to see this “gunk” yourself, unless it is really bad, but it shows up clearly on slit lamp examination.
The best treatment for this condition daily lid scrubs combined with warm compresses. I like to use baby shampoo for lid scrubs. In the shower, place the shampoo on your index fingers, close your eyes, raise your eyebrows (to stretch the skin on your eyelids) and scrub back and forth along your eyelashes for 3 to 5 minutes. The hot water in the shower helps to soften the plugged oils in the glands while the mechanical scrubbing with your soapy fingers removes the oils.
Baby shampoo lid scrubs will also help to wash away allergens and stimulate tear production, thereby addressing all three of your issues. Remember, this is not an instant fix. While you are waiting for the lid scrubs to have affect you can use over the counter allergy pills such as Travist, dimetapp or Zyrtec.
Should your symptoms get worse, your vision become significantly affected or things just not get better in 3 weeks or so you should have a complete eye examination by your local ophthalmologist to look for other, less common, causes of your symptoms.
Does this make sense to you?
so, if I keep up with the Restylane and the artificial tears and time
yes, this makes sense
And the home therapy I discussed above, yes, you should feel better :)
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is there any value to a humidifier at home?
my home is extremely dry due to electric heat
It won't hurt but usually a small room humidifier doesn't raise the total humidity enough to really help. In order to really make a difference you need a unit that attached to your furnace.
I'd try it.....doesn't cost much and you have nothing to loose by putting some moisture in the air.
Thank you so much for your advice Dr.!
My pleasure. Have a good evening :)