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 proportion of each substance.
If there is an imbalance of oil, liquid and mucin in your tear film, you may suffer some of the following symptoms of dry eye disease listed below.
- excess watering
- discomfort & irritation
- sensitivity to light
- feeling of foreign body in eye
- eye fatigue
- burning or stinging sensation
- fluctuating or blurry vision
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 – aqueous-deficient dry eye and evaporative dry eye. When you schedule a dry eye examination with one of our Salt Lake City eye doctors at The Eye Institute, we will evaluate your tear film, meibomian glands, blinking habits, tear ducts and your symptoms to determine the best treatment to offer relief from chronic dry eye.
Aqueous-Deficient Dry Eye
If your doctor determines that you suffer from aqueous-deficient dry eye, meaning your eyes have issues producing the water component of your tears, 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. Other options available to treat aqueous-deficient dry eye include punctal plugs or surgery to the tear drainage system. Your doctor will determine which combination of treatments will be most beneficial for you.
Evaporative Dry Eye
If you have evaporative dry eye, your eyes are likely suffering from a deficiency in the outer oil layer of the tear film. This is the most common form of dry eye, affecting 86% of all chronic dry eye sufferers. When the thin oil layer is depleted, the water layer 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 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 experiencing evaporative dry eye as a result of MGD, The Eye Institute of Utah now offers two revolutionary treatment options to help restore normal oil flow and improve dry eye symptoms. These treatments include:
Both of these treatments use different methods of applying heat to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged the eyelids meibomian glands and slowed or stopped proper oil production in the tear film.
Dry eye disease is a chronic condition that requires constant preventative care and treatment to reduce the progression of the disease. To learn more about LipiFlow & IPL therapy and to find out if you are a candidate for one of these groundbreaking treatments, schedule a dry eye consultation with us by calling 800-760-4171.
Are You A Candidate?
To learn more about dry eye treatments such as LipiFlow and IPL, complete our Dry Eye Questionnaire so we can evaluate the severity of your symptoms. One of our dry eye coordinators will review your responses and contact you with your results, answer any questions you have, and assist you with scheduling a dry eye examination.