If you are experiencing redness, dryness, irritation, burning, fatigue, or inconsistent vision you may be suffering from dry eyes. You are not alone. Millions of people do. Many accept eye discomfort or settle for treatments offering only temporary relief. At EyeWorks, we have a passion for solving eye health mysteries so we can get to the heart of the problem, treat patients most effectively, and offer long-term solutions.
Symptoms of dry eye can include:
Contact lens discomfort
The sensation of having something in your eye
When the quantity and/or quality of tears fail to keep eye surfaces adequately lubricated, dry eye results. It affects more women than men, with risks of developing increasing during the aging process. It can become a chronic condition, interrupting the daily activity and limiting productivity. For some, it can turn into an extremely debilitating disease. Left untreated, dry eye can impact vision. Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) is also known as Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) or dry eye disease, but here we will refer to it simply as dry eye.
Dry eye can be caused by environmental conditions, such as air conditioners, heaters, and fans, which dry out the tear film covering the surface of the eye. It may also be aggravated by:
Certain nutritional deficiencies
Prolonged use of screens or electronic devices
The first step in getting an improvement is getting an accurate diagnosis. At EyeWorks, doctors Higley expertly evaluates whether a patient is suffering from dry eye and determine its severity. The patient completes a detailed questionnaire, and the doctor uses the TearLab™ Osmolarity System to measure tear fluid volume.
It’s important to know that there are two forms of dry eye: water deficient (Aqueous) and oil deficient (MGD). Aqueous dry eye occurs when there are not enough tears being produced by the lacrimal glands. Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) occurs when the glands that produce the protective oily layer of the tear film become blocked over time and no longer produce oils needed for healthy tears. Blocked Meibomian glands result in rapid tear evaporation and can lead to irritation; discomfort; and, if not treated, gland dropout. Evaluating the glands responsible for keeping the balance of water and oil is essential in determining the best treatment for your condition.
The Meibomian gland evaluator, applying pressure of a deliberate blink while observing gland secretions, and the LipiScan™ with Dynamic Meibomian Imaging™, imaging the lower eyelids, are tools the doctor uses to help pinpoint whether these glands are the source of the problem.
Temporary relief is often not the long-term solution, so after identifying the source(s) of the problem, your doctor will discuss the best treatment options with you and decide on a course of action.
Artificial Tears: These can be an effective way to supplement natural tears and are available over-the-counter or by prescription.
Eye Drops: Restasis® or Restasis MultiDose™, Xiidra®, and short-term topical steroids are prescription medications available to help relieve dry eye symptoms by increasing tear production and reducing eyelid and corneal inflammation.
Supplements: Natural vitamin supplements can sometimes offer positive benefits in addressing symptoms, depending on the source of the condition.
Tear Conservation: The doctor may recommend partially or completely closing tear ducts if dry eye results from tears leaving the eyes too soon. He may perform minor surgery to block tear ducts with removable plugs that keep available tears in the eye longer.
BlephEx™: When Blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid margin, is diagnosed, the doctor uses this hand-held device to spin a medical grade micro-sponge along the edge of eyelids and lashes to remove flaky deposits and debris and exfoliate eyelids.
LipiFlow®: This is the only FDA-approved device for removing Meibomian gland blockages and restoring gland function. The treatment uses thermal pulsation technology to apply heat to the inner eyelids and massage to remove gland obstructions.
The diagnosis and treatment for dry eye may be billed to your health insurance. If you have questions about diagnosis and treatment, please call us at (603) 782-9067.