July is national dry eye awareness month and we believe this condition does not get enough recognition. It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer from Dry Eye Disease (DED), and unfortunately, that number is rising. However, most people have never been accurately diagnosed, appropriately treated, or simply never associated their eye symptoms with DED. A person with dry eye can have symptoms mimicking other conditions, such as red, itchy and even watery eyes, resulting in mistreating the condition with allergy medications, which can in fact cause more dryness.
Other common symptoms of dry eye are:
- Irritation and grittiness
- Foreign body sensation (like sand in eyes)
- Excessive tearing
- Contact lens intolerance
- Fluctuation in vision
- Fatigued eyes
What is Dry Eye and why do we get it?
Dry eye or ocular surface disease (OSD) is a multifactorial condition, and it is usually chronic and progressive. There are often multiple causes, unique to each individual. Some of the possible causes are:
- Systemic diseases (Sjorgren’s syndrome, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, etc)
- Medications (acne, allergy, blood pressure, anti-depressants, etc)
- Contact lens wear
- Digital device usage
- Cosmetic products
- Ocular or eyelid surgery
Each person may have more than one risk factors and other causes not listed above. This is why a successful treatment of this condition entails finding the root cause of it and treating that. Remember, artificial tears only temporarily help with symptoms.
How is it treated?
A treatment plan is formulated and tailored to each person based on diagnostic testing and causes of their dry eye. Treatments options may include:
- Nutraceuticals (Omega 3 fish oil)
- Lid hygiene
- Bruder eye mask heat treatment
- Nighttime moisture chamber goggles
- Specific Artificial Tears to address tear deficiency and homeostasis
- Prescription eye drops (Restasis, Xiidra or steroids)
- Lipiflow pulsating thermal treatment
- Miboflo thermal treatment
- Diet modification
- Cosmetic product assessment
- Oral medication
About 80% of all dry eye disease is due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands are located along the bottom and top eyelash margins. Every time we blink meibomian glands secrete the oily layer of tears, which helps to prevent evaporation. Our tear film has three layers: the outermost layer is the oily layer, the middle layer is aqueous and the innermost layer is mucin layer. Each layer has a specific role in keeping our ocular surface healthy.
As part of the comprehensive exam, we examine your meibomian gland function. Someone with early MGD may not have symptoms yet, but we know that this condition can progress and cause debilitating dry eye symptoms in the future.
At South Waterfront Eye Care our goal is to identify, educate and offer preventative measures to patients who have the risk factors to develop dry eye disease. The biggest satisfaction is to see relieve and improve the quality of life for those patients who have been struggling for many years with dry eye disease.