Patients with dry eyes complain that their eyes often feel gritty, itchy, and dry. Other common symptoms include burning, stinging, redness, stringy mucus discharge and sensitivity to light. Some patients may experience their eyelids sticking together in the morning. Patients with dry eyes may also have difficulty wearing contact lenses. Excess tears may also paradoxically be a symptom of dry eyes as the reflex tearing tries to make up for the lack of basic secretion.
There are three layers to the tear film. The inner layer is mucous (mucin), used to help spread the tears smoothly over the eye. The watery (aqueous) middle layer brings nutrients to the eye and contains enzymes to help fight infections. The outer layer is oily (lipid), and its function is to help prevent evaporation of the tears. Deficiency of any or all of the these layers can produce symptoms of dry eyes. While dry eyes may occur merely because of age, they are more common in women and especially in those on hormone replacement therapy.
Dry eyes may be caused or made worse by certain systemic diseases, or medications. Diagnosing and treating dry eyes is done in the office. Now with the addition of our Dry Eye Service, we can implement a more customized treatment of your dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears, Restasis™, Xiidra® and certain vitamin supplements will help. In some cases plugs may be inserted in the tear ducts to reduce the tear drainage. This quick, painless procedure is done in the office, and is covered by insurance. BlephEx® is an in-office procedure that treats blepharitis by eliminating the biofilm and bacterial toxins that cause inflammatory lid disease and dry eye.
The decrease in stability and quality of tear production can occur from poor oil gland function. A chronic and progressive condition called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), is the root cause of most dry eye. LipiFlow® is the only electronic device cleared by the FDA for treatment of MGD.
If you are suffering from dry eyes, call our office and ask for our Dry Eye Service. Left untreated, dry eyes can lead to other more serious conditions including infection, corneal ulcers and even loss of vision.