Dry eye disease is one of the most common eye conditions that people experience across the country, affecting more than 100 million people worldwide. Tears are a very important component to healthy eyes. With every blink of your eyelids, tears are washed over your cornea, helping to lubricate the eye, wash away debris, prevent infection and keep your visual field clear. The tear film in our eyes is made up of a very complex composition of oils, mucin and liquids. In order for the tears to properly lubricate and protect our eyes, it’s important that each layer of our tear film has the correct proportions of each substance.
If any of these components of your tear film are not at the correct proportions, you may suffer some of the following symptoms of dry eye disease:
Common Symptoms of Chronic Dry Eye
- excess watering
- discomfort & irritation
- sensitivity to light
- feeling of foreign body in eye
- eye fatigue
- burning or stinging sensation
- vision problems
Due to its complex nature, dry eye disease is oftentimes under-diagnosed. When it is diagnosed, accuracy is difficult since common dry eye symptoms can mimic the same symptoms as those of other ailments, like ocular allergies. There are two predominant categories of Dry Eye – patients who suffer from poor tear production and patients with evaporative dry eye. When you schedule a consultation with one of our dry eye specialists at The Eye Institute, we will evaluate your tear film, meibomial glands, blinking habits, tear ducts and your symptoms to determine the best combination of treatments to offer relief from chronic dry eye.
Poor Tear Production
If your doctor determines that your chronic dry eye is a result of poor tear production, there are several treatment options available. For patients who experience relatively mild dry eye, your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter artificial tears. These can be applied as frequently as needed to relieve irritation caused by dry eye.
For patients that suffer from moderate to severe dry eye due to poor tear production, the medication Restasis can be used and is shown to restore tear production for many patients. Surgical options are available to treat this form of chronic dry eye including different types of tear duct surgery. Your doctor will determine which combination of treatments will be most beneficial for you.
Evaporative Dry Eye
Evaporative dry eye, which affects 86% of patients with chronic dry eye, often have adequate tear production, but the outer oil layer of the tear film is deficient. When the thin oil layer is depleted, the water later of the tear film dries out and evaporates at a more rapid rate. Several factors can cause or contribute to evaporative dry eye including meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or blocked glands, incomplete blinking, or eyelid/eyelash infections to name a few.
Your doctor may suggest lid and blinking exercises to retrain your lids to close completely, which helps the oily layer of your tear film properly distribute over the entire surface of the eye. If you suffer from an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and/or steroids, and anti-inflammatory medication. Omega-3 supplements may be recommended in combination with heated compresses for patients with mild evaporative dry eye.
For patients experiencing moderate to severe evaporative dry eye, The Eye Institute of Utah now offers a new treatment option called the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation. This groundbreaking procedure applies heat and pressure to the affected glands in the eyelids, helping to unblock clogged glands in the eyelid and restore oil production.
Are You A Candidate?
To see if you are a potential candidate for LipiFlow®, complete the SPEED questionnaire before you schedule your dry eye consultation. We will review your responses and contact you shortly after your submission.