Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that develops when your eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep the eye’s surface lubricated resulting in multiple symptoms that range from person to person. This can be due to a reduction in tear production or increased tear evaporation from a lack of lipid in the tears that stem from oil glands in the eyelids. The effects can range from minor dryness and discomfort to pain, blurred vision and frequent infections.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease
- Dry, itchy eyes, swollen lids
- Burning, stinging or gritty sensation
- Red or Watery eyes
- Blurred vision or fluctuation in vision
- Pain or discomfort
The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a condition that develops when the amount of tears produced is not sufficient to maintain the moisture balance in your eye. This can result in that scratchy sensation, a continuous feeling of dryness, stinging and a sensation of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically in an effort to fight off the condition, dry eyes can cause you to produce excessive tears, which is why some people experience watery eyes.
Causes of Dry Eye Disease
- Medication - Dry eye may be a side effect of another medication that you are taking. Possible culprits: decongestants, antihistamines, blood pressure medicines, and anti-depressants.
- Meibomian Gland Dysfunction - The most common cause of dry eye seen in our office is when the meibomian glands produce oil of the wrong consistency, get inflamed, and/or atrophy, and no longer produce oil.
- Hormones - Pregnant women or women using oral contraceptives may be susceptible to dry eye resulting from hormonal changes. Changes to the Thyroid may also cause dry eye.
- Blepharitis - Dandruff on the Eyelashes can cause inflammation on the eyelid margin and is heavily related to meibomian gland dysfunction.
- Exposure - Long-term contact wear, extended periods spent staring at screens (computer vision syndrome), and exposure to windy and dry climates.
- Age: It is not uncommon for adults over the age of 65 to experience dry eye symptoms.
Diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease At Vision Gallery
At Vision Gallery, we use the most advanced diagnostic equipment to diagnose and treat the specific cause of your dry eye disease. The Oculus Keratograph allows us to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and customize a treatment plan. This technology will allow you and the doctor to visualize your oil glands and evaluate the quality and function of your tear film. After a full dry eye evaluation, the doctor will discuss all treatment options and develop an individualized treatment plan with you.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
There are many treatment options for dry eyes which are highly dependent upon the cause and severity of the condition. Many mild forms of DED can be alleviated using artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to make up for the lack of natural tears usually produced by your eyes. If over-the-counter drops don’t alleviate your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production or steroids for short-term relief.
Other treatments include: Lid hygiene products, prescriptions eye drops, punctal occlusion, meibomian gland expression, Optilight IPL treatment, MiBo Thermaflow treatment and microblepharoexfoliation.
-Lumenis Optilight IPL
How does IPL work?
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light and is a light-based technology, now being used to treat meibomian gland dysfunction and dry-eye disease. During the procedure, a strategic level of light pulses is administered to penetrate the skin under the eye and target the root cause of the inflammation. IPL treatment helps to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged the Meibomian glands in the eyelids. IPL procedures are effective, gentle, and safe.
- Improves eye comfort and vision clarity
- Safe and Comfortable
- Reduces your dependency on eye drops
- Treats the root cause of the problem
- Quick “lunchtime” treatment
During the procedure
You may experience a warm sensation as the light is applied to your skin, but the treatment is gentle, and you should not feel uncomfortable. Ultrasound jelly is used under the eye to help soothe the skin. Each session lasts approximately 15 minutes.
After the Procedure
Following treatment, your eye doctor may perform a meibomian gland expression (in this procedure, tiny “paddles” are used to compress the eyelids to squeeze out the contents of the meibomian glands.) The purpose of meibomian gland expression is to accelerate your skin and eyelid healing process and is optional but recommended.You may experience some mild redness and discomfort in the treated areas – this will usually disappear within a few hours. Most patients can resume their daily activities the same day. Sunlight should be avoided for a few days following the treatment, and sunscreen should be used.For optimal results, 4 sessions are typically recommended, with 3-4 weeks in between. Maintenance treatments, usually once every 6-12 months, are also recommended for optimal long-term results.
OptiLight, Dry Eye Management By Lumenis
OptiLight by Lumenis is a light-based, non-invasive treatment done in the area surrounding the eyes to manage dry eye. The first and only IPL FDA-approved for dry eye management.
-MiBo Thermoflo Treatment
What is it?
The MiBo Thermoflo is a therapeutic medical device providing a safe and effective alternative therapy for dry eyes. It uses a heat pump to help maximize liquefaction of oils in your glands, thus improving preservation and function of the evaporative of the tear film.
How Does MiBo Thermoflo Treatment Work?
The MiBo Thermoflo supplies continuous controlled heat that is applied to the outer skin of the eye lids along with ultrasound gel for a gentle massage. The heat is absorbed deep into the tissue and breaks down the hardened lipids in the meibomian glands.
- Lasting Benefits
- Immediate Relief
- Improve tear break up time
Preventing Dry Eyes
If the cause of your dry eyes is something external or environmental, eliminating that cause may solve the problem and resolve the symptoms. Avoid dry environments, hairdryers, heaters, and fans, (particularly directed toward the eyes) and smoky environments and wear eye protection such as wrap-around glasses or goggles when in dusty or windy areas. Use a humidifier to add moisture to dry indoor air. If working on a computer or watching television, make sure to blink purposefully as our natural tendency is to reduce our blink rate when staring at a screen. Also, avoid rubbing your eyes as this can further irritate them. Staying hydrated by drinking at least 8 to 10 glasses of water per day can also help.
Dry eye disease won’t have a permanent effect on your vision, but there is no reason to endure dry, itchy, and uncomfortable eyes, especially since there are so many treatment options to increase moisture and comfort. It’s also important to realize that this is a chronic disease that needs consistent treatment. Your doctor will work with you to create a long-term strategy to keep your eyes as comfortable as possible.