According to the National Health and Wellness survey, roughly 6.8 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with dry eye disease. However, because so many cases go undiagnosed, it is difficult to determine how many Americans are actually affected by the daily discomfort of dry eyes.
You do not have to live with the irritating and sometimes painful symptoms of dry eye disease. Request an appointment with SJEA today to determine whether you suffer from dry eye.
Your eyes need a certain amount of tears to function the way they’re supposed to. If your body doesn’t produce enough tears naturally, your eyes become dry, irritated, and vulnerable.
Healthy eyes require a healthy tear film. This film, made of an oil called meibum, floats on top of your tears to keep them from evaporating off the surface of your eye. Without the right amount of meibum, your tears evaporate before they have a chance to lubricate and hydrate your eye. This leaves your eyes dry, irritated, and vulnerable.
The eyes rely on specifically formulated tears for protection, lubrication, and cleanliness. Dry eye or dry eye disease is a chronic condition wherein the eyes do not receive adequate moisture to function comfortably.
Most cases of dry eye can be broken down into two categories: aqueous deficiency dry eye and evaporative dry eye.
The majority of dry eye cases are cases of evaporative dry eye. This type of dry eye develops due to an unstable tear film.
Your eyelids feature several tiny glands called meibomian glands, which produce an oil called meibum. The meibum then creates a film on the surface of your tears. This film is an essential element of healthy tears, as it prevents them from evaporating too quickly.
When the meibomian glands become blocked, (which is known as meibomian gland dysfunction) your tears no longer contain enough meibum to produce a functional film. Without a stable tear film, the tears quickly evaporate from the surface of the eye, impacting the sufferer’s vision and comfort.
Patients with aqueous deficiency dry eye do not produce enough tears to keep their eyes properly moisturized throughout the day. Without the appropriate tear volume, the sufferer’s vision and overall comfort are compromised.
The leading cause of dry eye discomfort for over 86% of patients is meibomian gland disease, also known as meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD. When our meibomian glands become clogged our eyes do not receive enough meibum to produce the high-quality tears they need to keep themselves lubricated, leading to evaporative dry eye. However, not all types of dry eye are caused by MGD.
MGD treatment involves unclogging your meibomian glands and removing the waxy deposits that were causing the clog. Depending on your individual vision needs and the severity of your MGD your Optometrist may recommend a variety of treatments including medicated eye drops, BlephEx, or LipiFlow.
Symptoms of dry eye disease may include:
While some doctors are satisfied to simply treat your symptoms, we insist on treating the underlying issue. We use highly advanced technology to determine the cause of your chronic dry eye symptoms.
With the LipiView II Ocular Surface Interferometer, we are able to evaluate the health of your meibomian glands, monitor your tear film in real time, and analyze your blink dynamics.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is an effective therapy for dry eye, using pulses of targeted light to warm and liquefy hardened oils that have clogged the meibomian glands. The entire treatment only takes a few minutes and can help improve the eyelids’ inflammation alongside healthy gland function.
IPL targets the root cause of the problem rather than just the symptoms. So, IPL is a great choice to help combat your dry, gritty feeling eyes. Plus, there is no associated discomfort or downtime with IPL so that you can return to your normal activities directly after treatment.
LipiFlow is designed to stimulate meibum production through the calculated application of mild pressure and gentle heat. This in-office treatment uses a special eye mask to soften meibum, helping the meibomian glands to express it properly.
Eye drops like Restasis offer the immediate relief of artificial tears. However, medicated drops are also specially formulated to stimulate your body’s natural tear production.
Restasis and other medicated eye drops are only available by prescription and cannot be purchased over the counter.
Radiofrequency treatment is another effective treatment for dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction. RF targets clogged meibomian glands through a small handheld device that produces radio waves. The radio waves generate heat, which helps to soften hardened meibum that may be blocking the meibomian glands.
Radiofrequency treatment can also safely and effectively improve the appearance of fine lines and bags under the eyes. This treatment can effectively improve your dry eye disease or MGD by targeting the root cause of the problem and leave you with a smoother, healthier-looking appearance as well.
Sometimes, dry eye is related to a condition called blepharitis, which may develop as a result of poor eyelid hygiene.
BlephEx is an in-office treatment designed to help treat or alleviate dry eye and blepharitis by gently cleansing the eyelids and lash lines.
Using a handheld device with a small, spinning sponge, your Optometrist will lightly exfoliate your eyelid areas; removing any dead skin and general debris that may have collected there. Regular BlephEx treatments may help encourage meibomian gland health and potentially improve tear film stability.
Your eyelids feature ducts to facilitate tear drainage. However, these ducts may not be helpful if you have dry eyes and your tears are draining too quickly. Punctal plugs are small devices that are inserted into these drainage ducts. As a result, your tears remain on your eye’s surface for longer, providing more hydration.