Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. It occurs when your tears are not able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes. Often there are many different symptoms that one may notice such as blurred vision, stinging, burning, itching, redness, sensitivity to light, or a gritty/scratchy feeling in the eye. Your dry eye symptoms often may be exacerbated in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.
Tears are needed to lubricate the eyes and to wash away particles and foreign objects. A healthy tear film on the eye is necessary for good vision. Dry eyes develop when the eye is unable to maintain a healthy coating of tears. The tear film can become inadequate for many reasons. In certain cases, one may not produce enough tears, while in others one may produce poor quality tears.
Dry Eye or MGD?
There are two forms of Dry Eye disease.
The most common form of Dry Eye is Evaporative Dry Eye, which affects 9 out of 10 (86%) of Dry Eye cases. This form results from a shortage of oil in your tears caused by a blockage in your eyelid (Meibomian) glands, leading tears to evaporate faster than normal. This lack of tear oil is often referred to as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).
Now, with the breakthrough LipiFlow® technology, it’s possible to directly treat the root cause of MGD.
If you’re like many people with Dry Eye symptoms, your condition is related to blocked meibomian glands and an inadequate protective layer of oils in your tears. Your tears are made up of three layers:
Common Symptoms of MGD
Sensitivity to light
Discomfort in windy or dry conditions
A series of evaluations will be performed to determine if you have MGD. You will have a LipiScan®, a form of gland imaging, to assess meibomian gland function. Knowing what is causing your Dry Eye will help your doctor determine the best treatment option.
Normal Eyelid (meibomian) Glands
Meibomian glands produce the oils needed for a healthy tear film
Gland (oil) Dropout
MGD occurs when the meibomian glands become blocked. If this blockage is left untreated the glands will drop out entirely.
Relief with LipiFlow
LipiFlow is a procedure designed to treat the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye, blocked Meibomian glands. LipiFlow works by applying directed energy to the eyelid near the affected glands — precisely targeted warmth from the back of the eyelid, and slight pressure from the front.
LipiFlow treatment cross-section
The LipiFlow treatment can unblock glands, interrupt physical deterioration and, in most cases, provide symptom relief. This treatment is performed right in our office.
Other Causes of Dry Eye & Treatments
Dry eye usually occurs in people who are otherwise healthy, but becomes more prevalent as one ages. Other common causes of dry eyes include:
Dry environment or workplace (wind, air conditioning, heating duct)
Smoking or second-hand smoke exposure
Cold or allergy medicines
Heat or chemical burns
Previous eye surgery
A rare autoimmune disorder, in which the glands that produce the tears are destroyed (Sjogren Syndrome)
Early detection and aggressive treatment of dry eye syndrome (DES), or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), may help prevent corneal ulcers and scarring. We take dry eye very seriously and apply a large armamentarium of medications to treat dry eye syndrome. Other options may include punctual plugs or punctual cauterization. Lubricating supplements are the mainstay of treatment and most commonly used to treat DES. Agents that we often use with our dry eye patients include:
Artificial tear substitutes
Gels and ointments
Anti-inflammatory agents – Restasis, Xiidra, and Cequa
Tear-producing nasal spray – Tyrvaya
Omega-3 fatty acids
Topical or systemic tetracyclines
Autologous serum tears
Amniotic membrane contact lens
No two dry eye patients are the same, and therefore each patient warrants personal examination and treatment. Here at Vision NYC we formulate a unique treatment plan that will work best to make your eyes feel better.