Dry eye affects millions of patients. Mild dry eye may have few or no symptoms, but it is a chronic, progressive condition. If left untreated, dry eye advances to a more moderate or severe condition and can affect the quality of life. Vision becomes unstable and fluctuates, and eyes become too uncomfortable to read, use a computer or watch a movie. This can affect your ability to work or enjoy social activities. Some patients become self-conscious because their eyes are so red.
Dry eye is also known as Ocular Surface Disease (OSD) because it can affect the health of the cornea. That can result in an adverse effect on the outcome of cataract surgery.
Symptoms of dry eye vary but may include redness, burning, itching, gritty sensation, crusting and matting of eyelashes, sticky discharge, blurred vision, tired eyes and heaviness of the lids. Patients may even complain of excessive watering of their eyes. This annoying tearing is the body’s way to attempt to compensate for a dry eye. But it can cause blurring of vision as well as irritation of the surrounding skin on the eyelids.
Did you know that there are different kinds of dry eye? The two basic types of dry eye are aqueous deficient and evaporative. The more common dry eye is evaporative.
In aqueous deficient dry eye, the quantity of tears produced is insufficient. With evaporative dry eyes, the quality of tears is abnormal, resulting in tears that evaporate too quickly.
The tear film is composed of three layers: mucin, water, and oil. The oil component should look clear and watery, like olive oil. But in dry eye, it looks inspissated like wax or thick like toothpaste. This makes tears unstable and they evaporate too quickly. The oil layer of the tear film is produced by oil glands in the eyelids, called Meibomian glands. There are approximately 30-40 glands in each lid. With every blink, those glands express their oil. But if the oil is stagnant or thick, it does not get expressed and the glands become inflamed and atrophy. This is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and can lead to permanent severe dry eye.
Thomas Eye Group has a Dry Eye Center of Excellence, at our Roswell location, and offers state of the art technology, called Tear Osmilarity, to diagnose which type of dry eye you have and how to best manage it. We now have a technology called Lipiflow, to treat the more common evaporative dry eye. Structural damage to the Meibomian Gland can be identified with high definition imaging called Lipiscan.
Lipiflow treatment opens obstructions in the Meibomian Glands and can restore gland function. It does this by applying heat and massage to the inner surface of the eyelids. The treatment takes approximately twelve minutes and is not painful. Patients report improvement in their symptoms, are less dependent on the use of artificial tears and may be able to comfortably wear their contact lenses again.
Take back control of your life. Don’t let dry eye rule your life. Call Thomas Eye Group to learn more about Lipiflow treatment and how it can help you. To schedule an appointment with our Dry Eye Specialist, Dr. Stuart Newman, contact our Roswell office today at 770-475-5515.