Dry eye disease or DED is a multifactorial ocular surface disease characterized by symptoms of discomfort such as redness, burning, irritation, gritty sensation, excessive tearing and blurry vision among others. It is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye; this is a common and often chronic problem particularly in older adults. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away debris and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears, or their tears are of poor quality.
What can cause dry eyes?
Dry eyes can develop for many reasons, including:
How are dry eyes diagnosed?
The first step is to talk to your eye care provider to discuss your symptoms and how they affect your quality of life. Here at Sun Eye Care, we offer the latest technology to diagnose and treat dry eye.
How is dry eye treated?
Careful examination by your eye care provider is needed in order to determine what type of dry eye is affecting you as well as the severity. After the proper diagnostic tests are interpreted, a customized treatment plan can be implemented for your particular dry eye disease. At Sun Eye Care, we have several treatment options to manage most types of dry eye.
Mild dry eye
Artificial tears: this is most often the initial therapy recommended in mild cases of dry eye. There are many brands of tears on the market, as well as different formulations such as water-like, gel-like, and ointment. The specific type of tear drop that is best for your type of dry eye will be determined and recommended by your eye care provider after your dry eye examination. At Sun Eye Care we keep a variety of formulations in stock so that you can leave our office with everything you need to start feeling relief.
Moist heat-releasing dry eye masks: if your eye care provider determines the glands in charge of producing the oil layer of your tear film are mildly impacted, warm compresses at home may be part of your treatment plan. In this case, a dry eye mask is an ideal and convenient way to perform this therapy at home. These masks may be placed in the microwave for the time suggested in the packaging (it varies per brand) and deliver controlled moist heat to your eyelids for the best therapeutic results. We also have stye kits available.
Eyelid hygiene: clean eyelashes are also an important part of managing dry eyes. Poor hygiene can lead to chronic inflammation of the eyelashes (blepharitis) and it can pose a higher risk of infections. We also offer several options for easy and convenient eyelid hygiene: hypochlorous spray (which helps reduce the number of bacteria), tea tree oil foaming cleansers and pre-moistened lid wipes (gentle and tea tree oil formulations).
Moderate dry eye (or non-improvement with previous initial treatment):
Thermal Therapy: For patients that are diagnosed with Meibomian gland dysfunction with inspissation of the glands, we offer an in-office treatment that uses controlled heat delivery, this therapy helps clear impacted meibum (oil) to provide relief for up to 4 weeks. The number of treatments will depend on the severity of your condition. This is a non-invasive option, that will feel like a day spa for your irritated tired eyes.
Blephex Micro-blepharoexpholiation (MEB):
Some patients may suffer from chronic eyelid inflammation (blepharitis). It is caused by an overgrowth of normal bacteria present along the lid and at the base of the eyelashes. Anyone can get blepharitis at any age, but the prevalence increases with age; this is in part due to the fact that as we get older we make fewer natural antibodies in our tears if this is combined with poor eye hygiene it makes for a breeding ground for pathogens. This overgrowth of bacteria causes crusting along the eyelid and creates a sticky biofilm that harbors bacterial exotoxins. Since the eyelid margins are difficult to clean, this overgrowth of bacteria, scurf, and biofilm can build up over many years. Developed by a board-certified Ophthalmologist, Blephex is an in-office procedure performed directly by our eye care providers. With Blephex your doctor can deliver a fast and convenient treatment that thoroughly and precisely eliminates the scurf, bacterial debris, and biofilm that causes inflammatory lid disease. Treatments are repeated at regular monthly intervals depending on the severity of the disease.
Moderate to severe (or non-improvement with previous treatment)
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL):
For patients who experience chronic inflammation in combination with ocular rosacea, we offer an innovative treatment option that targets the root cause of inflammation. Brief, powerful bursts of light at specific wavelengths cause changes in the skin surface. These changes minimize redness and improve the look of skin. Furthermore, when the light is absorbed by the blood vessels, it generates heat in the dermal layer that melts the secretions and opens the glands. In addition, IPL decreases the bacterial load on the skin, which is one of the reasons it helps with acne. There’s also some evidence that IPL decreases parasites on the eyelash margin that can cause meibomian gland problems. Skin and eyelid inflammation can be relieved with as few as 1-2 treatments. Typically 3-4 sessions with 3-6 weeks in between are needed to achieve optimal results.