Dry Eye Treatment in Pontiac & Clarkston, MI
Gritty, watery dry 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 for their dry eyes. 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.
Dry Eye FAQs
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 eyes. 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 dry eye 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 dry eye treatment 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 dry eye treatment to remove the obstruction in the glands in order for the tears to get to the eye surface.
Can Dry Eye Syndrome Come and Go?
In some people, dry eye is chronic and ongoing. In others, it can come and go. Studies have shown that the prevalence of dry eye doctor visits and allergy season in the spring coincide. Also, dry eyes spike in the winter, likely a result of our bodies adapting to the lower humidity caused by indoor heating. Also, environmental factors such as dry, windy conditions can trigger dry eye symptoms. When using a computer or a smartphone we tend to blink our eyes less fully and less frequently, which leads to greater tear evaporation and increased risk of dry eye symptoms. Even frequent flying, due to low humidity in cabin air, can contribute to dry eyes.
What if I Don’t Treat My Dry Eyes? Can I Lose My Sight?
If you choose to not treat your dry eyes, the condition on its own won’t permanently damage your vision. But leaving the condition untreated will surely impact your quality of life. Dry eye makes your eyes more prone to developing eye infections, as your tears protect the surface of your eyes. Everyday activities such as reading become difficult. And you can damage the surface of your eyes, as severe dry eye can lead to corneal abrasions and corneal ulcers.
What are the Most Common Reasons People Get Dry Eyes?
Dry eye can be chronic or tied to circumstances, such as allergy season. Chronic dry eye is usually a result of dysfunction in the tear production areas of the eyes, often with the Meibomian glands. If this causes your dry eye, it will not improve or go away with changing conditions. Also, general aging leads to less tear production in our eyes, as does menopause in women.
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 dry eye treatment.
LipiFlow Treatment FAQs
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using LipiFlow for Dry Eye?
For temporary cases of dry eye, treatments can be as simple as lubricating eye drops and taking more breaks when doing computer or up-close vision work. We can also prescribe topical prescription medicines.
But these treatments will have little or no effect when dry eye is caused by Meibomian gland obstruction. LipiFlow is the best treatment for these patients. So, advantages and disadvantages aren’t really relevant here. If your dry eye is temporary, you probably don’t need repeated LipiFlow treatments. But if your dry eye is chronic and gland related, LipiFlow is far and away the best option for dry eye treatment and long-term relief.
How Long Does it Take to See Results from the LipiFlow Procedure?
LipiFlow is a quick 12-minute procedure in our offices. It provides some immediate improvement for blocked Meibomian glands. Some patients see the full effects of the dry eye treatment in two weeks, but for others it can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to see real improvement.
Is LipiFlow Covered by Insurance?
At this time, LipiFlow is not covered by medical insurance.
Do I Need to Do Anything 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!