Owned by husband-wife optometrist duo Dr. Steve and Dr. Tari Thomas, Pflugerville Vision Care (PVC) is a one-stop shop for any and all needs related to vision and eye health. The Drs. Thomas and Dr. Amie Bethel have been serving Pflugerville and North Austin locals for over 25 years. PVC aims to provide personable customer service, thorough medical evaluations, and real solutions for painful and annoying eye conditions.

The optometry clinic has a friendly, neighborhood-feel, offers a wide range of services and is up-to-date on the latest eye therapies. Comprehensive eye exams, emergency eye care, dry eye diagnosis and treatment, contact lens fittings and diabetic eye exams are just a few of the ways PVC assists patients daily.

“We’re a full-service eye care clinic. We can provide comprehensive eye exams. We can diagnose and follow diabetic eye disease. If the patient has dry eyes, we can treat that as well. If the patient has special needs for contact fittings, we can help,” Dr. Tari said. “We also have a full-service optical on site.”

In an age of excessive screen time—with people spending endless hours working on a computer or scrolling on social media—dry eye has become a more prevalent complaint from patients. As a result, Dr. Tari has taken a special interest in researching and taking educational courses on the topic so PVC can provide the highest quality care in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye.

According to Dr. Tari, symptoms of dry eye can include burning and stinging sensations, a scratchy or gritty feeling, tiredness and fluctuating vision between blinks. Tiny oil glands along the eyelid called meibomian glands contain oil which is pushed onto the eyelid with each blink to create the outer, protective layer of the tear film. However, if the oily tear layer is not healthy, the next layer of the tear film, which is water, will evaporate causing stinging and burning or run off causing watery eyes. Both are a form of dry eyes.

“What happens when you’re working on a computer or looking up close for a long period of time, you don’t blink nearly as much,” Dr. Tari said. “Then, you’re not blinking so you’re not getting that oil moving. The stagnant oil in those glands will thicken up and become more like butter than oil. This causes less productive blinks resulting in dry eyes.”

When a patient visits PVC complaining of dry eye, steps for diagnosis include infrared imaging of the oil glands as well as testing for inflammation and the osmolarity of the tears. PVC has many options for treating dry eye, and its optometrists work with patients to decipher the best regimen for relief.

“Dry eye is chronic and progressive, which means if you don’t treat it, it will get worse,” Dr. Tari said. “For clogged meibomian glands, we need to actually force that old oil out of the glands because if you don’t, the clogged glands will just drop out and disappear. This creates a much more difficult dry eye situation.”

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is one way to treat dry eye, especially for patients whose inflammation is contributing to their issue. About five heat zaps are administered across the cheek next to the eye to help reduce deep inflammation. Generally, several treatments four to six weeks apart are recommended.

Another option is low level light therapy (LLLT), which involves intense LED red light. During the in-office treatment, patients wear the mask for 15 minutes to melt the oil in the meibomian glands. The light heats deeply into the oil glands but does not feel hot to the skin.

“It’s like an intense hot compress for your eyes because it penetrates more deeply than if you’re just using a warm compress, which is one of the things we recommend for home treatments,” Dr. Tari said. “It is actually very relaxing.”

PVC also has the dry eye treatment known as iLux which is a handheld device used to warm both sides of the eyelid before gently squeezing the lid to express the clogged oil glands. Treating dry eye is an ongoing process, so several of the different therapies may need to be tried multiple times for improvement.

Throughout every process, optometrists at Pflugerville Vision Care strive to make each patient feel cared for, listened to, and informed about their eye issues and range of treatment options. Dr. Tari said during each exam, educating patients about their eye conditions is a priority, rather than simply prescribing medication and sending them on their way.

“We do spend time with [patients],” Dr. Tari said. “We explain what’s going on, answer their questions and try to get them involved in their own treatment. I think [patients appreciate us] explaining and answering their questions and giving them all the information they need to make the decisions they need to make.”

Pflugerville Vision Care is located at 16303 Yellow Sage St., Pflugerville, and is open Monday through Saturday. If you are interested in booking an exam with Pflugerville Vision Care or have questions about their exams and therapies, call 512-251-4099 or schedule an appointment online at www.pflugervillevisioncare.com.

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