Dry Eye Disease
Have you ever thought you might have dry eye? Symptoms include irritated, scratchy or burning eyes, a feeling of something in the eye, excess watering as the eye attempts to overcompensate for the dryness, blurred vision and fluctuating vision.
Most have learned to live with the eye discomfort and have become dependent on drops or other treatment methods that only offer temporary relief. To make matters worse, in a high percentage of cases, left untreated or treated improperly this condition gets worse.
What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)?
There can be many factors involved in dry eye but the root cause in most cases, which is chronic and progressive, is now understood to be Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). In fact almost 90% of patients diagnosed with dry eye have MGD. The Meibomian glands are located in the eyelids and produce oil that is secreted into the tears from these glands during the blink. This oil protects the watery layer of the tear film. MGD occurs when there are blockages or there is structural damage that inhibits the natural production of protective oils from the Meibomian glands.
When these oils are not present, it causes the tears to rapidly evaporate and lose their consistency. The eyes then become more susceptible to the negative effects that climate, heating, air conditioning, computer use, reading and other daily activities can have on the long-term health of the eyes.
Why is MGD so prevalent?
We have known for a while that hormonal and other factors associated with aging can affect the Meibomian Glands but extensive computer use, smartphone, and tablet use has contributed to a significant increase in partial blinking. In fact studies show that our blinking decreases to one third or even one fourth of normal. Blinking stimulates the Meibomian glands to secrete oils and spread a protective oil layer across the tear film. When we partially blink the eyelids do not touch, so there is no pressure applied at the Meibomian glands and blockages develop.
What are the long-term effects of MGD?
Left untreated, the glands shrink, deteriorate and disappear entirely. For many patients with MGD, who have left the condition untreated, significant gland loss has occurred and treatment options become limited.
Who is at risk for MGD?
Everyone is at risk for MGD as a result of evaporative stress (caused by not blinking, contact lens wear, use of technology, certain medications, etc.) and aging. While aging is unavoidable, we can reduce the evaporative stress by properly treating MGD.
Treating MGD with LipiFlow.
LipiFlow is the only FDA-cleared device for removing gland blockages and restoring gland function. Through advances in the application of vectored thermal pulsation (VTP) technology, the LipiFlow treatment is administered with no pain in our office. Please watch this LipiFlow video.
Treatment for Dry Eye Disease.
Our office is equipped with the proper technology to scan and evaluate the health of your Meibomian glands as well as the health of your cornea and the rest of the ocular surface to determine the treatment options that are best suited for you, from LipiFlow to, lid hygiene, prescription eye drops, or the correct artificial tear. Call today to schedule your dry eye evaluation.