Good education and patient understanding underpins all other methods of management. Without this compliance is almost certain to be low or even non-existent. Patients should understand what they are suffering from, how it is to be managed and what to expect regarding the likely longterm outcomes. It is vital to carefully manage patients’ expectations for them to engage long term in DED therapy.
Patients can be educated on how they can modify risk factors under their control such as environmental factors at home or in work. This could involve humidifying if the atmosphere is dry, improving lighting, and maximising fresh air flow.
Dietary factors such as a balance of Omegas 3 and 6 and increasing intake of foods (oily fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines or mackerel and flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds) or supplements, which are high in Omega 3, will help to improve the balance of these EFAs.
Water intake is another issue where when asked, patients will often accept that they do not drink the European Food Safely Authority (EFSA) recommendation of drinking between two and two and a half litres a day 12, or maybe drink too much tea/coffee which acts as a diuretic.12
Modification of medication is clearly not the remit of our profession and care should be taken in how this is communicated but, following a triage, it may be a conversation the patient should have with their GP if their medications have known side effects including dry eye.
Details of medications and common side effects can be found here.
Finally, patients need to understand that management of DED is not a quick fix but a long term therapy and stopping the management will lead to a return of the problem.