New UAB Callahan Dry Eye Clinic

Jan 12, 2016 at 12:42 pm by steve

Priscilla Fowler, MD

Dry eye is one of the most common reasons that Americans visit an eye doctor. The pain and severe discomfort caused by dry eye disease can affect quality of life significantly for the almost five million sufferers. Now help has arrived for these people with the recent opening of the UAB Medicine Dry Eye Clinic at the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital. The clinic offers a new approach to diagnosis and personalized treatment plans for patients of all ages.

“People seek care for symptoms that range from scratchy, irritated eyes to pain and visual disturbances that cause difficulty in reading and performing daily tasks,” says clinic director Priscilla Fowler, MD, director of cornea services for the UAB Department of Ophthalmology. “Dry eye most commonly affects older patients, but we are even seeing more young people as a result of increased screen time on computers and smart phones. Our focus is to find new treatments and new diagnostic modalities to help all patients.”

A new diagnostic offered at the clinic is a tear osmolarity test that determines the level of severity of a patient’s condition through analysis of the tear concentration. Clinic staff also tests for inflammation in the tears with a test called InflammaDry®, which detects an inflammatory marker called matrix metalloproteinase-9.

Each patient receives a comprehensive clinical examination to determine the precise nature of their disease and any underlying causes. “We are excited to offer imaging of the Meibomian glands responsible for producing the oily layer of the tears with the LipiView® system. This machine takes an image of the oil glands and measures the oily layer of the tear film so we can determine if the glands are healthy,” Fowler says. “These tests make it possible for us to learn more about a patient’s disease process and to better tailor the treatment to their specific needs. I think our clinic’s individualized treatment plan and the support we provide to help patients stick to that plan are making our clinic a success.”

This systematic approach, combined with new diagnostic testing, is used for every patient at the UAB Dry Eye Clinic, something not many eye clinics are doing, Fowler says. “I think this approach will allow us to educate our patients and to show them what’s going on with their eyes. They have a better understanding of their condition which helps them comply with treatment.”

The clinic is happy to accept referrals for patient evaluation. “Physicians in the community are sending patients to us, especially their more difficult or complicated cases,” Fowler says. “Many of them want another opinion or a treatment recommendation. Once we get patients on a treatment regimen, they can go back to their local doctors who will maintain the plan and send them back to us as needed.”




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