Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment
Every time you blink, tears are spread across the front surface of your eye. These tears wash away foreign matter and keep the front surface of the eye smooth and clear. The condition known as dry eye occurs when the eyes either do not make enough tears or the tears are of poor quality and can become a chronic condition.
What causes dry eye?
Dry eye can develop for many different reasons.
Aging is one reason, as the development of dry eye can be a natural part of the aging process. Many people over 65 experience the symptoms of dry eye. Women can also be at increased risk to develop dry eye due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy and menopause and the use of oral contraceptives. Certain medications can reduce tear production, and certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and Sjögren’s syndrome can also cause dry eye.
Dry eye disease can also be caused by problems with the glands that are responsible for producing the oils and water that are used in the tear film. Meibomian glands are tiny glands on the margins of the eyelids which secrete oil that coats the surface of the eye and keeps the water component from drying out. If these glands become blocked, or if the oil these glands produce is of poor quality, it can lead to dry eye.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
Dry eye symptoms are uncomfortable. If the dry eye is chronic and advanced, it can damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.
Symptoms can include the following:
- Blurred vision
- Red or burning eyes
- The sensation that something scratchy is stuck in your eye
- Recurring irritation that causes teary eyes
- Stringy mucus surrounding your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
Relief from these symptoms is possible! If you have been experiencing dry eye symptoms, our optometrists at Omaha Primary Eye Care are here to help.
How is dry eye diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye exam is the first step in diagnosing dry eye. During this exam, your doctor will be able to get a full picture of your eye health. Your doctor will perform more tests if dry eye is suspected. These tests can include examining your tear quality, volume, and evaporation rate. The chemical composition of your tears may also be assessed. Once a better picture of the condition is gained along with an assessment of the severity, we will determine the appropriate next steps for treating your dry eye syndrome so you can experience relief from your symptoms.
What are the treatment options for dry eye?
Treatment options for dry eye can vary. At Omaha Primary EyeCare, our doctors utilize LipiFlow® and OptiLight to treat dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System
LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System is the only electronic device cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction—one of the most common causes of dry eye disease.
The LipiFlow® treatment process is simple and non-invasive and takes less than 20 minutes.
Your doctor will place activators, which are dome-shaped, single-use sterile devices, on your eyes. Then, using what’s called Vector Thermal Pulsing technology, these activators will send heat into the glands inside your eyelids. You will feel a gentle, warm, pulsing sensation. Many patients have described the experience as feeling like a massage for the eyes.
After treatment is completed, you can resume normal activities right away.
OptiLight is a light-based treatment that uses precise, intense broad spectrum light to address signs of dry eye disease due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Lumenis’ patented technology OPT™ (Optimal Pulse Technology) transforms the use of light and allows targeted, uniform, precise, and controlled treatment. Specifically designed for the delicate area below the eye, OPT™ safely and effectively breaks the vicious cycle of inflammation associated with dry eye.
Treatment protocol typically consists of 4 sessions, at 2 to 4 weeks apart:
- During treatment, your practitioner will cover your eyes with shields and apply a thin layer of coupling gel on the treatment area.
- During treatment, light is applied to the skin below the eyes, and most patients report minimal discomfort.
- OptiLight is followed by meibomian gland expression.
- Each session takes only 10-15 minutes. There is no downtime, so you can resume your daily activities immediately.
Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment
If you suspect you may be experiencing dry eye, contact our office to schedule an exam today.