86% of Patients with Dry Eye have MGD
Research has determined that the leading cause of eye discomfort for over 86% of patients with dry eye is related to blockage of the tiny glands in our eyelids known as meibomian glands, and not necessarily due to a lack of tear production. When you blink, the glands release an essential oil that acts as the front line of protection for tears lubricating the surface of the eyes. When these glands become blocked, production of the necessary oils to protect the watery layer on the tear film is compromised and causes the watery layer to evaporate and leave the eye surface exposed.
Because treatment is very specific to the severity and type of dry eye symptoms and eye condition of the individual, not all treatment types are appropriate or necessary for everyone with dry eye. Talk with your doctor about which treatment is right for you and your symptoms.
Your physician may recommend home treatments for mild to moderate dry eye conditions which may include artificial tears, lubricating gels and/or ointments, daily eyelid cleaning procedures, heated eye masks, and omega-3/essential fatty acid nutritional supplements. For your convenience, Spokane Eye Clinic carries a variety of these products for purchase in each of our clinic locations.
Replacing natural tears with artificial tears is the most common treatment for mild dry eye. Artificial tears are available without a prescription and are used to lubricate the eyes.
Some patients may also find preventing evaporation of their tears beneficial. In winter, when the heat is turned on, a humidifier or a pan of water on the radiator adds moisture to dry air. Wrap-around glasses may cut down evaporation of moisture due to wind.
Lipiflow, a Proven MGD Treatment
The clinical science behind MGD as the primary cause of dry eye and its treatment is supported by over 25 years of scientific research. Gland blockages can be removed to restore proper gland function and reduce the progression of MGD, provided your gland structure is healthy. LipiFlow is the only FDA cleared treatment that properly heats the inside and outside of the eyelids while providing a gentle massaging action to properly remove gland blockages. Most patients receiving treatment notice improvement with symptoms over time but may need regular treatment every 1-2 years. The treatment is virtually painless and takes less than 12 minutes.
Other Clinical Treatments
Your physician may recommend one or more of the following in-clinic procedures to help treat moderate to severe dry eye:
- Punctal Plugs - Conserving naturally produced tears is an easy approach to keeping eyes moist. After bathing the eye's surface, tears enter a small opening in each lid, the punctum, and drain through a small canal into the lacrimal sac and down a duct into the nose. These channels may be closed temporarily or permanently by your doctor. The closure can create a reservoir of tears, which allows the eyes to stay moist for longer periods of time.
- Contact Lenses - Contact lenses may be used to keep moisture on the surface of the eye. Soft contact lenses have a tendency to absorb water and other fluids and act as a bandage that protects the cornea. When used to treat the eye, contact lenses trap artificial tears and medicine drops on the surface of the eye, thus providing needed moisture and lubrication.
- iCloud Mask - An iCloud mask may be used during your appointment to provide moist heat to your eyes for approximately 20 minutes. The in-office treatment can be more effective at reducing dry eye symptoms than an at-home eye mask, although at-home eye masks can provide relief too and can be used in conjunction with an in-clinic mask treatment.
- BlephEx - Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid area, most commonly occurring where the lashes grow. BlephEx is a tool, somewhat like a rotating file, that removes bacteria build up, toxins, and mites from the affected eyelid area.
- LipiFlow - An effective, longer term treatment to stimulate the meibomian glands in the eyelids with heat and massage and restore the natural flow of oil and lipids to the eye's surface. This state-of-the-art procedure utilizes a technique termed thermal pulsation to restore the meibomian gland structure and function. This procedure has received much acclaim for its success in treatment of dry eye syndrome secondary to meibomian gland dysfunction. A complete analysis of your eye health will determine if you are a good candidate for the LipiFlow procedure. Further information will be provided to you at your visit.
In addition, here are some helpful tips:
- Wear sunglasses outside. This will not only reduce the aggravating glare, but will provide a windshield to help block the drying wind effect.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids.
- Begin using a humidifier and turn OFF the fans!
- Aim vents in cars away from your face.
- Take frequent blink breaks when using a computer.
- If taking hormone replacement therapy, be sure your doctor knows about your eyes' dryness.
- Use over the counter lubricants (such as SYSTANE® ULTRA Lubricant Eye Drops) during the day as needed for extra relief.
- Begin using flaxseed oil or an omega-3 supplement.
- Avoid excessive caffeine intake.
- Quit smoking! Smoking aggravates dryness and ocular surface irritation.
- Environmental factors can add to your discomfort (smoke, fumes, dust).
- Airline travel can increase symptoms.
We look forward to assisting you in your eye care needs! Dr. Kuntz is currently diagnosing and treating new patients and established patients alike at our Spokane Valley location. At your convenience, please feel free to schedule an appointment to see us by dialing 509-456-0107 and asking for Dr. Kuntz's next appointment availability for a Dry Eye Evaluation. We look forward to seeing you!