Fall is on the horizon which means crisp days, the return of the pumpkin spice latte (my favorite), leaves changing color, and unfortunately the worsening of dry eye symptoms. Fall is my favorite personal season, but as an Optometrist I know that it signifies the return of burning, irritation, redness, and overall eye discomfort for my patients. At Focus we pride ourselves on being on the cutting edge of innovation, always using modern technology to provide the highest quality eye care and there’s no exception in how we treat dry eye or Ocular Surface Disease. There are 2 main causes of dry eye and each requires a different treatment technique to resolve symptoms:
First is Evaporative Dry Eye. There are glands in your eyelids that produce an oily layer to your tears, and this layer keeps your tears on your eye longer. If your glands become inflamed and clogged, that oil layer thins out and your tears evaporate faster than normal. So even though your eye produces enough tears, because they evaporate your eyes become dry which causes inflammation and symptoms of irritation, redness, grittiness, and overall discomfort. In this case we need to treat the oil glands and improve their function. At Focus, we have an instrument which is able to measure your oil layer and photograph the structure of your meibomian glands to see if they’re the culprit for your symptoms. This technology is called the Lipiview.
If the Lipiview detects a low oil layer and changes in the structure of the glands this is something that requires treatment to prevent it from worsening. When your glands start to lose function they can eventually stop making oil all together. Imagine if you break your arm and it has to be in a cast for months, when the cast is finally removed your arm is like a toothpick because the muscles atrophied from lack of use. If your glands aren’t functioning properly, not only will you develop dry eye symptoms but eventually they’ll stop working all together, and once they’re gone we can’t bring them back.
Here at Focus, we have the only FDA approved treatment shown to restore gland function and stop tears from evaporating: the Lipiflow. This treatment works by applying gentle heat directly to the glands and massaging them in order to unblock them and restore function. It’s an easy, 15minute treatment which can be done here in our office without affecting your vision so you’re safe to drive home afterward.
This treatment isn’t for everyone because the other cause of dry eye is Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye, basically your eyes do not produce enough tears to keep the eye lubricated and happy. Imagine being thirsty and not being able to get a glass of water, your throat becomes dry and scratchy and your voice gets hoarse. Well it’s no different for your eyes. If there aren’t enough tears present the eye becomes irritated and dry and this dryness causes inflammation. Using an over the counter artificial tear can add moisture back to the eye but it won’t do anything to treat the inflammation, if this inflammation persists so will your dry eye symptoms. In this case, a prescription drop known as Restasis can be used to reduce ocular inflammation and help the eye produce better quality tears.
If you’re suffering from dry eye now or you know your dry eye gets worse every winter, stop the cycle of discomfort. Call us today to make an appointment so we can determine which type of dry eye you have and get you started on the best course of treatment for your eyes. Stop dryness now so you can enjoy Fall and Winter as much as I do!