Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry Eye is a condition caused by the reduction in quality and quantity of tears. Common symptoms include pain from eye irritation; a sandy or gritty sensation; decreased tolerance to contact lenses; and sensitivity to light. In early stages, the symptoms may seem to appear and disappear, but generally worsen as the day progresses. The condition is typically treated with artificial tears and/or prescription drops or ointments. Closure of the tear drainage system (punctal occlusion) may also improve symptoms.

Dry eyes affect millions of people throughout the world. The condition is most common in women after menopause, but it can affect both sexes and all age groups, including children.

The symptoms of dry eyes are well known to sufferers — irritation, redness, sensitivity to light, and the constant sensation of foreign matter in the eye. However, these symptoms are less frequently recognized by health care professionals, who often neglect or minimize them. A clearer understanding of the nature and causes of dry eyes may enable sufferers to cope with their condition and participate in the care and treatment of their eyes.

For more information about dry eyes, please click here.

Dr. Jill S. Melicher joins MN Eye!

Please join us in welcoming Jill S. Melicher. M.D. to Minnesota Eye Consultants, P.A. Dr. Melicher specializes in ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery and will be serving patients primarily in our Blaine and Minneapolis locations.

Dr. Melicher attended Concordia College in Moorhead, MN for undergraduate education and went on to medical school at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences where she received numerous academic scholarships.  She performed her residency training at the University of Minnesota Medical School and was inducted into the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society as well as being awarded the Harry Plotke Award for oculoplastic surgery.  Dr. Melicher then went on to complete a two-year oculoplastic surgery fellowship with Dr. Jeffrey Nerad at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, IA and the Cincinnati Eye Institute in Cincinnati, OH.

Dr. Melicher is Board Certified in Ophthalmology, a member of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, and a fellow of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.  She has authored numerous publications, textbook chapters, and will devote a significant portion of her practice to residency education.   Dr. Melicher was actively recruited to join Minnesota Eye Consultants since our partner physicians uniformly felt that she was one of the best residents that they had the opportunity to work with at the University of Minnesota over the past ten years.

Although originally from Fargo, North Dakota, Dr. Melicher and her husband, Chris, are happy to call Minnesota home.  She will begin seeing patients September 1, 2010. Please feel free to contact us with any questions, or for more information regarding Dr. Melicher’s schedule.

Caring for your Contact Lenses

Taking care of your contact lenses properly is important for a number of reasons.  The main reason is to decrease your risk for serious eye infections.  Proper contact lens care will also ensure that your lenses are as comfortable as possible when you are wearing them and will prevent the build up of deposits on the lenses which can degrade the quality of your vision with lens wear.

Key points to remember with proper contact lens care are as follows:

1.      Be sure to rub your lenses before storing them in solution! This is one of the most important steps in removing microorganisms and deposits from your lenses.  Place the lens in the palm of your hand and add about 5 drops of contact lens solution.  Gently rub both sides of the lens for about 10-15 seconds using your index finger then rinse the lens with contact lens solution and your lens is ready to store in solution overnight.

2.      Always fill your contact lens case with fresh solution for lens storage.  Never re-use solution, as it will not be as effective at fighting off bacteria that can accumulate on your contact lenses.

3.      Store your contact lenses in solution overnight for adequate lens cleaning.  You should never sleep with your contact lenses on your eyes because it increases your risk for eye infections.

4.      Replace your contact lenses according to your prescribed replacement schedule.  For example, if you have 2-week disposable contact lenses, they should be thrown away after two weeks of wear.  Wearing the lenses longer can increase your risk for eye infections.

5.      Replace your contact lens case every 90 days.  Your contact lens case can harbor harmful bacteria, so to minimize the risk of infection, throw away a case after about 3 months of use and start using a new one.

6.      You should avoid swimming in pools, hot tubs, or lakes when wearing contact lenses.  Your lenses should be thrown away after being worn while swimming because certain organisms that can adhere to the lens while swimming cannot be eliminated with usual lens care procedures.  Daily disposable lenses are a good option for swimming or perhaps you might be interested in refractive surgery to decrease your dependency on contacts—ask your eye care provider if interested.

Be sure to contact your eye care provider if you have any questions about caring for your contact lenses.  Caring for your contact lenses properly can minimize your risk for eye infections that can permanently damage your vision.

NHL Player Stephane Veilleux:

NHL Player Stephane Veilleux

“I am extremely pleased that I decided to have LASIK eye surgery this summer by Dr. Elizabeth Davis at the Minnesota Eye Consultants. The staff and doctors were truly supportive and made me feel comfortable about a big decision. My surgery has allowed me to wake up every morning and see at 100 percent! LASIK eye surgery has changed my life. I am now able to play hockey without any contacts. I recommend Minnesota Eye Consultants to anyone considering LASIK eye surgery.”

Don Lucia on LASIK at MN Eye

“I couldn’t function without contacts — putting them in first thing in the morning, and having to take them out again for even a nap on the team bus. I was referred to Minnesota Eye Consultants for LASIK, and I couldn’t be happier with the results. I now see 20/20 or better — it’s fantastic. I would recommend Minnesota Eye Consultants to others, like me, who are motivated after years of wearing contact lenses. I had a great experience — perfect vision the next day.”

“My eyelids are always irritated, what do I have?”

You might be experiencing blepharitis.  What is it?  Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelashes and plugging of the oil glands of the eyelids.  You might experience the following symptoms: crusting, redness, itching, and/or burning.  Blepharitis is also commonly associated with dry eyes and rosacea.  People who have blepharitis are also more likely to have styes or chalazia of the eyelids.

Treating blepharitis adequately can be different for everyone.   Here are some common treatments:

–Daily cleansing of the edges of the eyelids with dilute baby shampoo

–Warm compresses held to the eyelids (eyes closed) to help open the plugged oil glands

–Antibiotic ointments to help decrease bacteria on the eyelids, if necessary.

What if this is not working? You should see your doctor for a complete eye exam.  There are also new intense, pulsed-light system treatments that can be used to treat patients with certain types and severity of blepharitis. Ask your doctor!

-Preeya K. Gupta, MD

LASIK Vision Correction Simulator & LASIK FAQ

Check out this neat feature! It allows you to see how your vision might improve with LASIK.


1. How do I know if I’m a candidate for LASIK?

A complete eye exam will confirm whether the patient is nearsighted, farsighted and/or has astigmatism. There must be no ocular health problems present, such as cataracts or untreated glaucoma. Additional measurements are needed, such as the thickness of the cornea and a corneal surface mapping. A qualified optometrist or ophthalmologist can ultimately determine whether the patient is a candidate for LASIK

2. What should I look for in choosing my surgeon?

The success of any LASIK procedure depends more on the skills and experience of the surgeon than other surgical procedures. A qualified surgeon should meet the following basic criteria: board certification by the American Board of Ophthalmology, with advanced training in cornea and refractive surgery; skills and experience with a prominent ophthalmology practice, having performed thousands of LASIK and refractive surgical procedures; and the ability to help patients understand potential outcomes and complications. While the proliferation of LASIK ad campaigns may tempt price-conscious consumers, remember this: LASIK is a lifetime investment. Taking the time to research the credentials and experience of the surgeon is important in achieving the best results.

3. What is involved in LASIK? How long does it take?

The procedure takes 5-7 minutes per eye. It is done under topical anesthetic drops. During IntraLase a laser is used to create a flap and remove a precise amount of corneal tissue. After the laser treatment, the flap is laid back into position and kept in place by natural suction, no sutures. Eye drops are used and plastic shields are placed over the eyes to protect them until the following day. Results are almost immediate, with minimum discomfort during the first 24-hour period.

4. How does the laser work?

The excimer laser uses a cold light beam to sculpt the cornea’s surface to the desired shape, correcting nearsightedness, farsightedness and/or astigmatism.

5. Does it hurt?

The cornea is easily numbed with eye drops during the procedure. Most patients say they have little to no discomfort both during and after LASIK.

6. What about recovery?

Recovery is fast. The first couple of hours after surgery, the eye feels somewhat irritated, with a burning sensation and some tearing. Vision is typically blurry during this time. Most patients nap for a couple of hours to rest the eyes. After several hours, the irritation goes away and the vision begins to clear. The day after surgery, most irritating sensations are completely gone and vision is remarkably clear.

7. I hate to have anything in my eye.

What if I am really nervous? A mild sedative is available prior to surgery to encourage relaxation during the procedure and to encourage sleep afterward. The surgeons and operating room technicians often talk throughout the procedure to put patients at ease.

8. Are both eyes done at the same time?

Some patients may prefer to have each eye done on different days. In most cases, however, both eyes are done on the same day. This avoids the period of imbalance that occurs if one eye still needs correction while the other one doesn’t.

9. What if I move my eye or blink during the procedure?

You will be lying back in a comfortable chair, staring up into a fixation light. During the procedure, a speculum, or lid separator, is used to hold the eyelid open and to prevent blinking. The surgeon has complete control of the laser at all times and, if the need should arise, can stop the procedure until the patient can focus on the fixation light.

10. Will I need glasses after the surgery?

With any medical procedure, there is not a guarantee of perfect vision. Almost everyone experiences improved vision, however, and most see well enough to pass a drivers’ test without corrective lenses. It is important to know that LASIK does not eliminate the need for reading glasses. Beginning at around the age of 40, a condition called presbyopia usually appears, requiring reading glasses or bifocal correction. The laser cannot correct presbyopia at this time; however, there are some promising treatment options on the horizon.

11. How long will I need to take off work?

Most patients return to work within two days; some even go back the day after surgery.

12. Will LASIK interfere with my lifestyle?

Active sports should be postponed for two weeks or until the eye is fully healed, unless protective eyewear is approved by the surgeon. Swimming, hot tubs and saunas should be avoided, as well. After full recovery, normal activity can resume, and the ability to play sports without glasses makes them more enjoyable for many patients.

13. How long will the correction last?

LASIK is a permanent procedure. In some cases, however, an enhancement procedure may be required. Some patients’ eyes may change throughout their lifetime, which can happen with glasses or contact lenses as well.

14. Is it true that it takes six months to improve vision after LASIK?

Fluctuation can occur, but visual improvement is almost immediate following the procedure. Most patients feel that major fluctuations have stopped after two weeks. At the same time, it may take additional time for all of the swelling in the eye to resolve and fluctuations to cease. Many patients do have healing that, in a minor sense, may continue to improve over six to nine months.

15. How safe is the procedure? Are there complications?

The procedure is very safe, and that is why it has been so readily accepted. With any surgical procedures, however, there may be complications. Vision-threatening complications do exist, but they are extremely rare. These include infections (an incidence of 1 in 5,000) and irregular healing processes that can lead to something called “irregular astigmatism” that glasses cannot correct and contact lenses or further surgery may be required to improve. There are also complications, which may lead to temporary blurriness, temporary dependence on glasses or contact lenses or a need for additional surgery. In most cases, the patient can still do well and recover with good vision. It is for this reason that LASIK patients should confirm the experience of their surgeon to determine if he or she has specialized training in cornea surgery. Because LASIK is performed on the cornea, knowledge of the healing properties of the cornea and management of any complications are critical to the patient’s well being. Knowing how to handle a complication, should one occur, can make a significant difference in the patient’s outcome.

16. What is the success rate?

Success depends on several factors, the most important being the degree of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism. Depending on the prescription, the surgeon can help determine the likelihood of reaching 20/40 or greater vision. Approximately 95 percent of eyes treated with LASIK reach 20/40 or better vision with one procedure, which is the requirement for driving legally without correction. If a patient does not achieve his or her goal with one procedure, additional correction often improves their vision to a satisfactory level.

17. I am farsighted. Can LASIK correct my vision?

In the low and moderate ranges, LASIK can treat farsightedness. For high levels of farsightedness, LASIK does not work as well and other refractive procedures may provide a better level of correction.

18. What about astigmatism?

Astigmatism occurs when the eye is oval rather than round. The laser can treat most levels of astigmatism. The laser does this by removing more tissue in one direction of the eye than another to make it more round.

19. I have dry eyes. Can LASIK help?

Many patients who desire LASIK surgery have dry eyes. They have become intolerant of their contact lenses because the dryness makes them uncomfortable. LASIK occasionally worsens dry eyes, but typically, this is temporary and usually treated with frequent artificial tear lubrication. In special cases of severely dry eyes, special punctal plugs that are placed in the lower eyelid tear ducts can be inserted with a significant improvement in dryness. These are easily removed in the office once the dryness resolves, or they can be left in place permanently.

20. I need reading glasses. Can LASIK correct my vision?

LASIK only corrects the distance vision. If LASIK is performed such that distance glasses are not needed, and the patient is over 40, it is likely that they will need to put on a pair of glasses to read. The exception to this is when patients opt to have monovision, when one eye is corrected fully for the distance and the other is left nearsighted. Only about 10 to 20 percent of patients opt to have monovision correction, and it is only recommended in patients who have tried it with contact lenses and liked the results.

21. What is the cost of LASIK?

The cost varies depending upon the patient’s prescription, but with financing options that are available, can be quite affordable — as low as $3 a day. These low-interest financing programs are available through Minnesota Eye Consultants.

22. Will insurance cover LASIK?

Most insurance companies do not cover LASIK. Some special employee programs, however, do cover a certain percentage. Patients should inquire with their insurance representatives to determine benefits and coverage.

Jesse Crain enjoyed Minnesota Eye Consultants

  Jesse Crain, pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, says,  “When I asked my optometrist about LASIK, he said that Minnesota Eye Consultants was the place to go. As a professional baseball pitcher, I was naturally hesitant about having surgery on my eyes and any associated risk that could ruin my career. The complete experience at Minnesota Eye Consultants, and the perfect result I have, is very rewarding to me. From the skill of Dr. Davis my surgeon, to the dedicated care from the entire staff, I am very happy my eye doctor sent me to Minnesota Eye Consultants for my surgery.”