Dry Eye Syndrome and Treatment
Dry eye is a common condition that affects millions of people. When our eyes are dry, they tend to feel tired, gritty, irritated or itchy. Irritation from wind or smoke and difficulties wearing contact lenses are also problems for those experiencing dry eyes.
Our eyes need tears, which spread over your eye when you blink, to stay healthy and comfortable. Tears are necessary for clear and consistent vision. If your eyes do not produce enough or the right type of tears it is called dry eye.
Tear film consists of three layers:
- An oily layer that keeps the tears from evaporating too quickly and ensures the tears surface is smooth. This layer is made by the meibomian glands.
- A water layer that cleans the eye, washing away particles that do not belong. It makes up most of what we see as tears. This layer is made by the lacrimal glands in the eyelids.
- A mucous layer that helps to spread the watery layer over the eye’s surface, keeping it moist. Without it, tears would not stick to the eye. This layer is made in the conjunctiva.
Other Conditions Associated With Dry Eye
Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids, usually involves the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow and affects both eyelids. Blepharitis commonly occurs when tiny oil glands located near the base of the eyelashes become clogged.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD, a blockage or some other abnormality of the meibomian glands preventing the secretion of enough oil into the tears. If left untreated and the blocked glands stop functioning, the glands can deteriorate and irrecoverable damage is possible.
- Watery Eyes
- Burning Sensation
- Excessive Watering
- Sensitivity to Light
- Eye Scratchiness
- Blurred Vision
- Autoimmune disorders
- Activities that reduce blinking: computer usage, reading, etc.
- Environmental exposure
- Eye Surgery
- Hormonal changes
- Prolonged contact lens usage
- Eye Infections
- Damage to the Surface of your Eye
- Decreased Quality of Life
Diagnosing Dry Eye
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. With the information obtained from testing, you and your doctor can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options.
TearLab Osmolarity System
This quantitative test is usually the first step our doctors take in diagnosing and managing dry eye. We sample a small volume of tears to gauge the severity of your dry eye and also use this test to track your improvement with treatment over time.
Meibomian Gland Imaging
Utilizing the Meibography and the slit lamp exam, doctors are able to view structural elements of your Meibography glands that determine the root cause of your dry eye. Additionally, the doctor is able to determine how longstanding the condition is based on blockage of Meibomian glands which occurs over time.
ILUX – The iLux device allows an eye care professional to view the eyelid margin through the magnifier, then warm the eyelid tissue within a therapeutic target range to melt the meibum blocking the orifices, and then apply compression to the eyelid to express the melted meibum through the orifices. iLux can treat both upper and lower eyelids.
BLEPHEX – A procedure for the treatment of Blepharitis, a disease caused by an overgrowth of bacteria that results in a crusty buildup along the eyelid and base of the eyelashes
RELIEF MASKS – Compress opens oil glands and allows natural oils to flow back into the eye to relieve discomfort
DROPS AND ARTIFICIAL TEARS – Stabilize the tear film and protect against moisture loss
OINTMENTS – Keep eyes lubricated and provide relief of dry eye or corneal edema
CLEANSERS AND SPRAYS – Cleanse and remove contaminants, oil and debris associated with dry eye.
TEAR DUCT PLUG – Small device inserted into the tear duct to block the duct from drainage.
Self Care & Lifestyle Changes
If you experience dry eyes, pay attention to the situations that are most likely to cause your symptoms. Then find ways to avoid those situations in order to prevent your dry eyes symptoms. Here are a few examples:
Avoid places with a lot of air movement. This means limiting your exposure to fans and hair dryers, and by wearing wraparound sunglasses when outside on windy days to protect your eyes from drying out.
Use a humidifier in the wintertime. Home heating systems can cause the air in your home to dry out, and dry out your eyes. But using a humidifier can help the air stay moist. If you don’t have a humidifier, you can put a pan of water on your radiator to add water into the air.
Rest your eyes. Frequent reading, TV watching, and computer use can dry out your eyes, so it’s important to take breaks so your eyes can regain some of their moisture.
Stop smoking and avoid cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke can irritate dry eyes and increase one’s risk of developing dry eyes in the first place.
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