Dry Eye Syndrome
One of the most common ocular conditions that affect patients today is dry eye. Common symptoms include blurred vision, eye redness, irritation, burning, watering and light sensitivity. There are many things that contribute to dry eye including systemic disease, age and hormonal changes, medications and other environmental factors such as dust, air conditioning or computer and cell phone use. The average dry eye patient used to be in their mid 50's but with all the use of computers, tablets and cell phones the average dry eye patient is now in their late 20's! Blinking causes us to lubricate our eyes and re-establish our tear film. Studies have shown that we blink 66% less when reading or viewing an electronic device.
Our tear film is comprised of three distinct layers. Any disruption to these layers can lead to dry eye.
- Mucous Layer- The innermost layer is a mucous layer that helps to anchor the rest of the tear film to the cornea.
- Aqueous Layer- The middle layer is called the aqueous layer is the watery layer of our tears. It makes up the bulk of our tear layers and is what we commonly think of as tears
- Lipid Layer- The outermost layer of our tears is the lipid layer. It is produced by the meibomian glands that line our upper and lower eyelid margins. The oils produced by the meibomian glands cover our aqueous layer and prevent our tears from evaporating too quickly.
Types of Dry Eye
There are two main types of dry eye. One is due to a reduction in tear production and the other is caused from poor tear quality. The first cause of dry eye is due to an reduction in the production of the aqueous layer of the tears. The second and most common form is due to a problem in the oil layer of the tears.
Aqueous Deficiency. Although tear production typically decreases with age, other causes of reduced tear production include certain medications and many auto-immune disorders such as Sjogren's Syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Evaporative Dry Eye - Occurs when there is a problem with the lipid layer of our tears. This is by far the most common type of dry eye making up 85% of all cases.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Blurry Vision
- Eye Pain
- Itchy or Scratchy Eyes
- Red Eyes
- Watering of the eye
- Light sensitivity
Our optometrists at Mobile Vision Professionals can diagnose and treat your dry eye. They type of dry eye you have is what really drives the treatment options. Have you been unsuccessful in the past with previous dry eye treatments? In order to properly treat dry eye, we must first properly diagnose and treat the root cause of the problem. Many patients are just given artificial tears for their dry eye. This can often be helpful in cases of Aqueous Deficiency Dry Eye but will give minimal relief in patients whose dry eye is due to Evaporative Dry Eye. There are many different types of artificial tears on the market and they are all NOT the same in consistency or quality. Depending on the severity and type of dry eye you have, we will recommend to proper lubricant for your eyes.
- Aqueous Deficiency: Treatment options for a reduction in tear production include artificial tears, gels and ointments. In cases of severe inflammation and reduced tear production from auto-immune disorders, Restasis and pulse topical steroids are often prescribed.
- Evaporative Dry Eye: In evaporative dry eye we must get to the root cause of the problem which is treating the meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Warm compresses, lid massage and oral antibiotics such as minocycline/doxycycline are often used to help treat the MGD. If a patient also has concurrent blepharitis or demodex (mite infestation of the eyelids) this must first be aggressively treated with certain lid scrubs and medications in order to get relief from the symptoms of dry eye.
Call to schedule an appointment today with Dr. Hassenpflug and Mobile Vision Professionals to see what we can do to help your eyes feel and look better than they have in years!