Over six million women and approximately three million men in the U.S. have moderate or severe symptoms of the disease, and it is estimated that an additional 20 to 30 million people in this country have mild cases of dry eye. Many people suffer unnecessarily as there are many ways to improve or even eliminate this condition.
Excellent vision and outstanding ocular comfort both require an adequate tear film! The components of a healthy tear film depend on many variables such as overall health, hormone levels, diet, and environmental factors. There are three layers to the tear film and each layer can be affected by variables independent of the other layers. The layers include: 1. An outer oily layer that helps to reduce evaporation. 2. An aqueous layer responsible for providing the majority of the tear component 3. A mucin layer that provides a smooth surface for the tears to lie upon If any of these layers are deficient in any way, an adequate tear film will not be possible.
What are the causes of Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes are more common now than ever before. Medications (such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications, and birth control pills), outdoor exposure, computer use, caffeine, smoking, normal aging changes, and even cell phone use can all contribute to the condition of dry eyes. Dry eyes are more common in arid climates, during the use of forced air heating and with individuals who do excessive reading-either printed material or computer screens.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Common symptoms include a scratchy feeling, redness, tired feeling, foreign body sensation, grittiness, tired eyes, overall discomfort, light sensitivity, contact lens intolerance, and intermittent blurred vision. Although it seems counterintuitive, dry eyes often make your eyes water more. This is due to the eyes’ attempt to add lubrication to a dry eye but these “reflex tears” often spill out of the eye and do not lubricate effectively. Women are affected by dry eyes two to three times more often than men and tear volume decreases with aging.
Ocular stains including fluorescein and lissamine green are used to show the area of the eye most affected by the dry eye condition.
How can you tell if you have dry eye syndrome?
Roholt Vision Institute spends a great deal of time and attention to the details of diagnosing and treating dry eyes. Special testing with advanced technology can be performed to evaluate the quantity and quality of your tears. A measurement of the amount of tear produced and the quality of tears present are analyzed. Once these tests are performed, several treatment options can be utilized to improve the comfort and function of your eyes. These may include utilization of lubricant drops and ointments, prescription drops such as Restasis and other anti-inflammatories and the use of medical plugs to block where tears drain from the eye (silicone punctal plugs).
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Meibomian gland dysfunction is a disorder of the glands of the eye lid which are responsible for producing an oil called meibum. This oil provides the lipid layer (outer layer) of the tear film and keeps the tears from evaporating too quickly. Some studies suggest that up to 70% of all dry eyes are related to MGD. At Roholt Vision Institute, we have advanced technology to view patients’ meibomian glands by utilizing the LipiView II Interferometer with Dynamic Meibomian Imaging (DMI). These advanced technologies generate independent images never before available to doctors hoping to help their dry eye patients. the images from these technologies are combined, providing for an accurate and detailed image of the status of the tear film and the meibomian glands. This provides information that leads to more accurate diagnoses and better treatment plans for those patients who suffer from dry eyes.
Most importantly, once the MGD diagnosis is made, Roholt Vision Institute is one of only a few offices in Ohio to offer treatment utilizing the LipiFlow technology. The LipiFlow treatment acts to restore the flow of meibum from functioning meibomian glands by using a combination of heat and massage to improve the comfort and vision of patients suffering from MGD.
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