As healthcare professionals, optometrists attend continuing education meetings multiple times throughout the year to keep them up to date on the latest advances in eye care. These educational opportunities occur at local, state, and national meetings, and may focus on one or several varying topics of interest.
This year I chose to attend a conference that would educate me further on an ocular condition that I share with many of my patients – dry eye. As electronic devices continue to become more ubiquitous in our culture at home, at work, and at play (at increasingly younger ages), I have seen a surge in the number of patients presenting to my office with moderate to severe dry eyes. But this increase in dry eye is not just happening in Crestwood or Louisville, Kentucky – it is happening all over the world. And the eyecare community has taken notice.
In 2007, the first report of the International Dry Eye Workshop (DEWS) was presented by the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS). This groundbreaking report unified the definition of dry eye, classified different types of dry eye, and made recommendations on the appropriate testing, management, and therapeutic treatments for various forms of dry eye. It was met with enthusiasm throughout the eye care community and put to much use over the years that followed.
Time, research, and technology progressed, and soon the TFOS realized the need to update its landmark report. When they released the DEWS II, in 2017, it included a revised, more specific definition of dry eye, increased classifications and types of dry eye, and new suggestions for testing, management, and treatment of dry eye. It is now the gold standard reference text for any eyecare professional participating in the treatment and management of dry eye disease.
I recently attended the New Technologies and Treatments in Eye Care conference in Nashville, Tennessee. I chose this meeting specifically because one of the keynote speakers is a global ambassador for the TFOS and was directly involved in writing some of the content for the DEWS II report. I knew that if I wanted to learn about the latest technology and treatment of dry eye (for myself and my patients), this was the place. I wasn’t disappointed!
I learned detail after detail about the new classifications and types of dry eye (many of which have overlapping signs and symptoms). I discovered many common environmental and medical exacerbators of the disease. I saw several new testing techniques for dry eye, and spoke with a few vendors about new technologies they have recently developed to track dry eye progression. I even attended some smaller break-out sessions of the conference where I got to experience first-hand some of the latest treatments designed to slow or even prevent the progression of dry eye disease. As I talked with other doctors from around the country about their dry eye practices, I also discovered a few new ways to share this newfound knowledge with my dry eye patients.
Now that I am back at Derby City Eye Care, whenever a patient presents to my office with mild, moderate, or severe evaporative dry eye, aqueous dry eye, or a combination of both, I am better equipped to educate and treat their disease with a little more confidence and thoroughness than I did before. It is my sincere goal that every patient in my practice knows the joy of clear and healthy vision, and it has been so rewarding over the last few weeks to see the quality of life difference this new education provides for my dry eye patients.