Dry eye disease is a common condition that roughly 30 million people in the United States suffer from. Dry eyes are the result of a decrease in the production of tears or an increase in the evaporation of tears. Our tears keep the surface of the eye wet and also drains out any debris that may come in contact with the eye. How insufficient the tear production or how poor the tear quality will dictate the severity of dry eye disease, its diagnosis and management for treatment.
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eye is caused by many factors including hormonal changes from aging, environmental allergies, low humidity, side effects of certain medications, eyelid inflammation called blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), autoimmune conditions, increased screen time, refractive eye surgery, and contact lenses. All of these factors can cause irritation to the tissues on the surface of the eye and the glands that produce oil and tears to promote a healthy ocular surface. As this process worsens over time, this may lead to dry eye syndrome or disease. Sometimes our eyes can overproduce tears due to the irritation, however, the tears are not the right consistency to help.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
There are several symptoms of dry eye which include redness, itching, stinging, scratchy sensation, light sensitivity, difficulty or intolerance to wearing contact lenses, blurry vision, and even eye fatigue. Mild symptoms can cause slight discomfort, but severe dry eye can significantly impact your daily activities.
Dry Eye and Blurry Vision
The tear layer on the surface of our eyes not only keeps the eye moist but is important for clear vision. Our tears must have the proper balance of water, mucus, and oils to permit the tears to evenly spread across the eye surface. This imbalance can cause our tears to become too oily or mucus-filled and may lead to blurry vision.
Dry Eye Treatment
Our doctors, at San Antonio Eye Specialists, utilize state-of-the art technology to analyze the tear layer and the lacrimal system (the tear-producing structure of our eyes) to determine a custom-tailored approach to address the dry eye problem. There is a wide-array of treatment options for dry eye syndrome including:
- Artificial tears and lubricants (as the first-line treatment)
- LipiFlow procedure for oil gland dysfunction (MGD) or deficiency to promote healthy oil production to prevent evaporation of tears
- Medicated eye drops such as Restasis, Xiidra, and Cequa can be prescribed if relief is not found in artificial tears.
- Punctal plugs inserted inside the tear ducts that drain tears from the eyes
- Amniotic Membrane dry eye therapy
What is LipiFlow?
Oil gland production is crucial for a healthy tear film. When the oil glands become blocked over time and can no longer produce oils necessary for health tears, it can lead to the rapid evaporation of tears. We call this Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or simply MGD. This process can lead to irritation, pain and discomfort. LipiFlow is the only FDA-cleared device for removing blockages by utilizing a patented algorithm of heat applied to the inner eyelids to unclog the meibomian glands by pulsating message. Testing will be performed to determine if you suffer from MGD and if you are a candidate for LipiFlow.