Relief in Sight
With allergy season flourishing, Bucks Eye Specialists offers innovative solutions for patients contending with dry eye and allergy symptoms
by Theodora Malison

Itchy, watery, burning and tearing eyes—sound all too familiar? In the Delaware Valley, these symptoms are fairly common throughout the months also known as allergy season.

Sometimes, however, these symptoms link to a larger underlying problem, predominantly in those who suffer from an irritating condition known as dry eye. For those struggling to remedy allergies or those unsure as to whether or not they could be enduring the bothersome indications of dry eye, Sanjay Kamat, D.O., of Bucks Eye Specialists offers practical solutions to either situation.

According to Dr. Kamat, dry eye is a condition in which a person does not produce enough tears, or simply does not produce the right quality of tears. In some cases, he notes, patients can experience overlapping symptoms.

“There are a lot of different causes related to dry eye, and it becomes more confusing to treat because of the different levels of suffering people experience,” Dr. Kamat states. “Standard dry eye, however, is most common, and surprisingly most commonly found in postmenopausal women. Patients come in and mention their eyes are chronically tearing, so when we diagnose them with dry eye, most of the time they look at me like I’m crazy, not realizing excessive tearing is a commonly found symptom of dry eye.”

Some of these causes include ocular surface disease, or “OSD,” which covers a range of disorders concerning the surface of the cornea, as well as corneal inflammation, which is the swelling of the clear tissue found on the front of the eye. Ophthalmology practices such as Bucks Eye Specialists can test a patient’s tear samples, which provide crucial eye health information in order to prescribe a treatment plan. Dr. Kamat stresses the importance of having these tests completed to take necessary preventive measures against these causes.

“Tests such as InflammaDry measure inflammation,” he says. “When looking at the health of the cornea, we have to realize the importance of its health, as it is the beginning of how we see. When the ocular surface is damaged and affected, it can cause traumatic changes in someone’s quality of vision, therefore it has to be addressed immediately.

“The technology we have with operations such as Lasik and laser cataract surgery is wonderful,” he continues. “However, if you don’t have a healthy eye and healthy tear film, those surgeries won’t go as planned. The results will be hampered by ocular surface disease and dry eye.”

Dr. Kamat also adds that dry eye and the problematic inflammation referred to as conjunctivitis essentially feed off each other, making arising symptoms of both the inflammation and dry eye syndrome significantly worse.

“People that have dry eye are more susceptible to having infections,” he notes. “With conjunctivitis alone, they already have the intense itching. The treatments they take—decongestants, Allegra, certain medicated eye drops—dry the eye generally as a side effect, therefore making dry eye worse; it’s sort of a push-and-pull phenomenon.” 

The usage of contact lenses can also worsen dry eye symptoms, according to Dr. Kamat. Anyone who suffers from dry eye must exercise caution when opting for contacts over glasses. Dr. Kamat cites a few reasons for this phenomenon.

“The contact lenses rub on the cornea and film, which is asking for trouble,” he says. “Wearing contact lenses can be done safely, but requires changing to a different style of lenses; I tell my patients to stay away from the one-month disposables and switch to daily disposables. The daily disposables may be more expensive in the long run, but they are also safer and easier to use. If you accidentally rip the daily disposable lens, it’s not a huge deal considering you’ll get a new pair immediately the next day. It ends up being an advantage.”

For those seeking to remedy the pesky symptoms of dry eye, there a number of solutions for treatment, including Intense Pulsed Light, or IPL, which is offered by select practices in the region, including Bucks Eye Specialists. IPL is designed primarily to treat patients troubled by moderate to severe dry eye, freeing them from drops and prescriptions. Dr. Kamat notes that he was one of the first doctors to have this technology within his practice.

“There are probably over 50 to 60 locations now that have this machine [and] utilize this method,” he says. “The procedure is not covered by insurance but it is however, the ultimate treatment to remedy dry eye. It’s great for patients who want to be able to wear contact lenses regularly, or eventually go through with a Lasik eye surgery procedure.”

More tried-and-true remedies include lubricated and medicated drops, including the well-known immunosuppressive Restasis, which helps to increase a natural ability to produce tears. Other remedies include tear duct plugs, which prevent drainage of tears from the eye, and Omega-3 supplements, which some patients of Dr. Kamat’s claim to work better than other treatments.

“Restasis was the first medication of its kind that treated dry eye without the side effects of steroids,” Dr. Kamat states. “However, a lot of these old-fashioned methods from 20 years ago are returning but are slightly improved and got reinvented. Traditional plugs, or collagen plugs, have started to become replaced with disposable plugs. The disposable plugs tend to be a more comfortable option to the collagen plugs, which have a tendency to cause irritation or be uncomfortable. They slide into the tear duct and you can’t feel them, which is another bonus.”

Despite Restasis’ longevity and success on the market since its approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003, the favorable dry eye medication is rumored to have competition very soon. Although Dr. Kamat does not yet know much about the would-be medication, a new market entrant would represent Restasis’ first competitor in at least 15 years.

Among other exciting happenings, this past December Dr. Kamat took over a practice in New Jersey that has existed for approximately 30 years. Briggs Eye Specialists, a 7,000-square-foot office space located in Mount Laurel, is currently undergoing necessary revitalizations to complement its already reputable counterpart in Bucks County.

“[New Jersey] patients in the coming months can expect to see a similar layout to our Yardley practice, including a full-service optical shop with a doctor on staff, and all digital and fully electronic medical record systems,” Dr. Kamat says. “In addition, I’m looking to bring on a new ophthalmologist within the next year. I’m excited to see where things go.”

Bucks Eye Specialists
301 Oxford Valley Road, Suite 801-A
Yardley, PA 19067

Photograph by Allure West Studios