Neena James, OD, of 20/20 Eye Care in Huntsville, Alabama, provides her dry eye patients with “homework – a full page of 12-point font ideas, and I’ll start what I suggest for the patient. I tell them to pick what works for their lifestyle, and that’s where I’ll make the suggestions for products that they can pick up at the front desk,” she says. In addition to prescriptions that patients fill at the pharmacy, they can stop and pick up a Bruder mask or eyelid wipes and more. Now, she has a new option for them: The Dry Eye Drink.
The Dry Eye Drink was developed by Joshua Davidson, OD, FAAO, FSLS. One pack of Dry Eye Drink can provide two to three times the hydration of water alone with electrolyte that deliver hydration to the blood stream and cells faster. Dry Eye Drink contains green tea extract, turmeric, taurine, omega-3s and vitamins A, C and B3, B6 and B12. “Hydration is so important, and I would always tell patients to include alkaline water or coconut water,” says Dr. James. What she likes about Dry Eye Drink is that it’s “#not another eye drop.” That makes it simple in terms of compliance, especially for patients who are already doing drops for glaucoma and/or dry eye.
Dr. James has been trying the drink personally as well as with staff and family for about a month and started selling it in earlier in July. “We’ve already sold a lot and reordered more. I’m generally leery of selling products. I don’t want patients to feel like we’re pushing too many products,” she says. But when she took over the business, which sold one brand of vitamin and one type of wipe, she also began hearing from patients that they were overwhelmed by choice elsewhere. “They were facing consumer overload and wanted a one-stop shop.”
For many of her older patients, “it’s a burden to get on Amazon and order,” she says. As she hired new staff members who were more retail-oriented, the sales of products took off. She anticipates that Dry Eye Drink will do the same. She can provide patients a sample for one bottle if they’re interested or nervous about buying something they won’t enjoy. “I generally only drink water, but the raspberry flavor Dry Eye Drink tastes very good,” she says.
She even introduces it to patients who are in for other treatments. For example, she uses the TempSure Envi radio frequency treatment for dry eye. “If patients see a little dehydrated, my technician will give them a sample and encourage the patient to drink it before the next treatment. She says she has noticed an improvement in their daily comfort level at the next treatment.”
Dr. James has a special fondness for her dry eye patients because she is one herself. “I’m passionate about it because in college, I felt like there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t drive to work without my contact lenses feel dry. I could see deposits on my daily disposable lenses, and I’d sometimes even leave a party early because my eyes hurt,” she says.
She knows that patients who have other conditions that require medication management may also be susceptible to dry eye. She loves being able to add something simple to their regimen that could provide relief. “We need to utilize all the options,” she says.
Dr. James says that even with her attention to dry eye complaints, there is more that optometrists can do. “Dry eye and presbyopia are some of the few conditions that at onset can change a person’s life. With diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma, patients can’t see the effect immediately. But dry eye sufferers limit what they do in anticipation of the symptoms.”
Her recommendations are often task-specific. On days that the patient may be working in the garden, here are some tips. For a full day at the office, another set of strategies might work. Just as dry eye is multifactorial in its origin, the approach to treatment needs to be multifaceted as well.