Gritty, watery eyes can be much more than a nuisance. If you suffer from Dry Eye Disease, your productivity and quality of life may be diminished. There are nearly 30 million people in the United States and over 300 million worldwide who have been diagnosed with Dry Eye Disease. Most have learned to live with eye discomfort and have become dependent on drops or other treatment methods that offer temporary relief. The root cause of most Dry Eye is now known to be a chronic progressive condition, Meibomian Glad Dysfunction or MGD. MGD affects 86% of all those with Dry Eye and it is Treatable! Wilkinson Eye Center offer the care you need to restore comfort to your eyes.
What are the symptoms of Dry Eyes?
If you have Dry Eye Disease, you may experience symptoms such as:
- Eye fatigue
- Aching or sore eyes
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Grittiness or foreign body sensation
What is the cause of Dry Eyes?
Dry Eye Disease is generally a lifestyle associated disorder. It is a progressive obstructive disease that will not go away on its own.
The eyes are lubricated by tears, which provide a constant layer of moisture across the surface. Debris that may enter the eye is also washed away by tears. Tears are more than water. They also contain mucin, a mucous-like substance, and lipids, or oils. Each of these components originates in a different area of the eye. Lipids are produced in the Meibomian glands. Aqueous fluid production takes place in the lacrimal glands, and mucin comes from goblet cells. Dysfunction in any one of these structures means a prevalence of dry eyes.
In many cases, it is the Meibomian glands that are responsible for chronic dry eye. If these glands do not produce sufficient lipid content to preserve the watery aspect of tears, evaporation will occur too quickly and symptoms will occur.
What can be done for Dry Eyes?
The best thing that you can do for dry eyes is to see your eye doctor. The Wilkinson Eye Center Dry Eye Clinic has many tools to evaluate the status of the function and structure of the glands to determine the nature and best treatment plan for you. We offer screening with LipiScan, a sophisticated imaging device that enables us to observe and track the structure of the Meibomian glands. Without this high-resolution imaging, these glands cannot be observed. Our doctors also evaluate the function of the glands at the slit lamp.
How are dry eyes treated?
In mild, temporary cases, dry eye may be treated with lifestyle changes and the use of appropriate lubricating eye drops. Taking frequent breaks from computer use or other screen time is one of the most common recommendations made for dry eye sufferers. If artificial tear use several times per day is insufficient, topical prescription medicines such as Restasis and Xiidra are also available. These work as anti-inflammatory medications to rehabilitate the tear producing soft tissues of the ocular surface. They do not work for all patients and need to be taken chronically to have their desired effect.
When the Meibomian glands are obstructed they do not properly function, this is MGD, non-medical remedies will provide limited relief. We recommend LipiFlow treatment to remove the obstruction in the glands in order for the tears to get to the eye surface.
What is LipiFlow treatment?
LipiFlow is a dry-eye treatment that uses Thermal Pulsation to clear blockages in the Meibomian glands. When inhibited glands are opened, lipid production increases and the integrity of the tears improves significantly.
The Thermal Pulsation system works by gently heating the inner eyelid. At the same time, pulses of pressure release debris from the glands, enabling lipids to exit as needed. Lipiflow is gentle and controlled, described as a relaxing treatment by many patients. The in-office procedure is comfortable and, most importantly, it works. We do both eyes at the same time and the treatment takes 12 minutes. There are no side effects or limitation to activity after treatment.
Participants in a clinical study of Lipiflow reported a wide range of improvement – 10% to 100% – in their symptoms. 79% of study participants confirmed improvement within a four-week period after Lipiflow treatment.
MGD is a chronic disease with no known cure. In order to maximize the effect of LipiFlow there is a regimen we recommend our patients follow. Our regimen includes the use of oil based tears such as Retaine MGD or Oasis Tears Plus, use of a warm Bruder Mask and taking a daily supplement of Hydroeyes. We also encourage our patients to strengthen their lid activity by doing Blinking exercises. It is often surprising to patients that they don’t actually blink their eyes closed all the way. This squeezing of the lids is important to bring the tears to the surface and properly cleanse the eyes. Proper blinking can be restored through the use of these exercises. With this regimen, LipiFlow usually lasts better than 12 months and often as long as 3 to 4 years before needing to repeat it!
Dry eye syndrome can be treated successfully. We invite you to explore Lipiflow during a comprehensive consultation and examination in our Pontiac or Clarkston office.