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What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eye is a common condition affecting more than 23 million people in the United States and is on the rise with the increased use of computers, tablets and other electronic devices. Dry eye syndrome, if left untreated can cause more than just discomfort; it can result in ulcers, permanent damage to the cornea, and possible vision loss. Dry eye can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. For these reasons and more, we at Horizon Eye Specialists take dry eye very seriously, and you should too.

There are three layers to your tear film: lipid (oil), aqueous (water), and mucus. The composition of these layers helps protect and nourish the surface of your eyes. When these layers are not functioning properly the tears can evaporate rapidly or not reach the entire surface of the eye, causing irritation and other dry eye symptoms. 

 


 

How do you know if you suffer from Dry Eyes?

While most prevalent in people over age 50 and more common in women than men, dry eye can affect anyone. The most common symptoms of dry eye include: grittiness, burning, watering, redness, fluctuating vision, fatigue, light sensitivity and intolerance to contact lenses. If you are suffering from any of these symptoms some or all of the time please call for an appointment with one of our dry eye specialist.

 


 

What is the Dry Eye screening process?

When you come to Horizon Eye Specialists we use a multi-faceted approach to your condition. Our doctors now provide services towards addressing this important eye problem in routine dry eye clinic blocks. The doctor will work hands on with our patients and dry eye technician team to zero in on treatment options. A dry eye patient will begin their visit with our expert technicians using the latest technology available in diagnostic testing. Your process may include:

  • SPEED Dry Eye Questionnaire to determine the frequency and severity of your symptoms
  • Lipiview interferometry measures the lipid content of your tear film and evaluates your blinking patterns
  • Tear Osmolarity determines the severity of your condition and stability of your tears
  • Inflammadry tests for MMP9 marker to determine the presence of inflammation
  • The Oculus keratograph images your meibomian glands to detect gland loss and measures your tear break-up time.

Once testing is completed, our specialists will study the images, accurately evaluate your condition and suggest a course of treatment to best fit your individual needs.

What are the different types of Dry Eyes?

Aqueous Deficient Dry Eyes

The production of the watery part of our tears is made by the eye’s lacrimal glands and it is important to the overall health and protection of eyes and vision. The surface of our eyes is bathed in tears to keep it moist. This tear film protects the eyes by cleansing away dust and other environmental factors that can lead to inflammation or infections. Our tears are constantly produced to protect, nourish and bathe our eyes. When our eyes get irritated, they respond by tearing to protect the eyes, but when the lacrimal glands fail to produce adequate tears, dry eye occurs and can lead to further eye related complications.

Aqueous deficient dry eyes occur due to a lack of the watery substance in the tear film. The most common reason for this condition is failure of the lacrimal glands but other causes are inflammation of eye surfaces, conjunctiva, certain skin diseases, and it can also be a side effect of certain medications. Aqueous deficiency is also associated with autoimmune disorders like Sjögrens Syndrome It can also happen following laser eye surgeries such as LASIK. At Horizon Eye Specialists, we are well-equipped to diagnose your condition and suggest treatment options that help improve your symptoms and everyday lifestyle.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

When oil glands fail to produce and secrete the oily or lipid component of the tears, dry eye symptoms start to develop. The meibomian glands are located in our eyelids and they are responsible for secreting meibum (oil/lipids) in order to help prevent evaporation of the eyes’ tear film. Meibomian gland dysfunction, also known as MGD, can be caused by chronic blockage or coagulation of meibum which will affect the tear film. When meibomian glands are inflamed, the glands can get obstructed by waxy secretions of the eyes and lead to worsened dry eye symptoms.

Approximately 65% of cases of dry eyes are diagnosed as cases of MGD. Fortunately, new technology allows our physicians at Horizon Eye Specialists to accurately diagnose your condition and effectively manage MGD. Contact our office at (602) 467-4966 to set up an appointment.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a result of chronic inflammation of the eyelids near the base of the lashes of the eye. This condition is usually caused by bacteria or blockage of the eye oil glands (meibomian glands) openings. This leads to worsened inflammation of the eyes and worsened dry eye symptoms.

Some signs and symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Burning, itching, reddened and swollen eyelids
  • A loss of eyelashes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Mattering or crusting of eyelids

What are the treatment options for Dry Eyes?

Lipiflow

Lipiflow is the latest treatment option for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Lipiflow is an in office treatment which utilizes warmth therapy to break down meibomian gland blockages, opening up the natural oils needed for a healthy eye.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears have been a long time treatment option for Aqueous Deficient Dry Eyes. Patients can add drops of such tears to relieve the sore and tired eye experienced with dry eyes. Those artificial tears which state they include oils are also options for helping to manage Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. For many patients, utilizing artificial tears will alleviate soreness, but not address the root cause of their dry eyes.

Medication

Prescription eye drops have for years been the most utilized treatment options for dry eye relief. There are prescription options in the treatment of aqueous deficient dry eye, and meibomian gland dysfunction.

Punctal Occlusion

One option your doctor may recommend is a simple in-office procedure of inserting a temporary or permanent plug in the tear drain or puncta of each eye. This treatment typically leads to increased tear volume and helps to reduce and manage dry eye symptoms.

Hydrating Goggles

A simple option for patients with meibomian gland dysfunction is hydrating goggles which help open up glands for oil production. They can often be worn at night to help increase oil production from eyelid glands. This can help to stabilize tear film and reduce symptoms.

Fish Oil / Omega 3 Supplements

Fish oil and Omega 3 supplements have proven to be helpful natural options for many patients dealing with dry eye. Both provide the oils needed to address meibomian gland dysfunction.

Hot Compresses and Lid Scrubs

Your doctor may recommend warm compresses or utilizing lid scrubs in order to loosen up the clogged glands needed to create natural oils. This leads to better management of dry eye symptoms.

What our clients are saying

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James discusses his experience with Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center.

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Hear about my LASIK Experience

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Ready to have your best vision?

At Horizon Eye Specialists your consultation will likely be the most thorough eye exam you’ve ever experienced. We pride ourselves at performing a detailed, careful review of your eye and medical history, using the latest technology to determine your current visual status, performing repeated testing if necessary, evaluating your entire eye health, and reviewing your specific visual needs and lifestyle demands.

If you are a candidate, we know “one size fits all” does NOT apply to refractive surgery and will elect the procedure we feel will provide the best outcome based on all the data gathered specific to you.