It seems like everyone today has dry eyes. But how dry are your eyes? And when are dry eyes more than just a nuisance?
There are roughly 30 million people in the United States and over 300 million worldwide who are diagnosed with dry eye. In the dry, desert climate of Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, it is also very common. Most patients that see Dr. Jack Abrams and the team at Abrams Eye Institute have learned to live with eye discomfort and have become dependent on drops or other treatment methods that only offer temporary relief.
Dr. Abrams and his team have created the AEI Dry Eye Center of Excellence to help people find Dry Eye relief.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
Some of the common symptoms of dry eye include sensitivity to light, blurred vision, a burning sensation, or discomfort. It can also result in a lack of or an excess of tear production. Tears are necessary for your overall eye health.
The most common form of Dry Eye is Evaporative Dry Eye, which affects 9 out of 10 (86%) Dry Eye cases. This form results from a shortage of oil in your tears caused by a blockage in your eyelid (Meibomian) glands, leading tears to evaporate faster than normal. This lack of tear oil is often referred to as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD).
Blocked glands and slowed oil production can cause discomfort, fluctuating vision, reduced contact lens comfort, and the potential for worse symptoms following ocular surgery. If left untreated, meibomian gland blockage causes structural damage and gland loss. Once glands are lost, there is no known way to regenerate the glands.
Causes and Triggers
There are many factors that can increase the likelihood of developing dry eye symptoms.
- Lifestyle – Smoking, diet, and activities that cause eyestrain can contribute to dry eye symptoms. For example, frequent use of computers and digital devices can cause evaporative stress by infrequent blinking. This inhibits the function of the meibomian glands, which can ultimately lead to permanent damage to the gland structure. Reading or watching TV for long periods of time without taking breaks has been proven to deter a healthy blink rate. If MGD is present, dry eye symptoms can increase.
- Infrequent or Incomplete Blinking – Blinking naturally activates the meibomian glands. A low blink rate or incomplete blinking can cause MGD and dry eye symptoms.
- Contact Lens Wear – The simple presence of a contact lens on the eye disrupts the tears, accelerates the progression of MGD, and aggravates dry eye symptoms.
- Eye Surgery – After eye surgery, the surface of the eye is compromised and dry eye symptoms can occur. Untreated MGD can exacerbate a compromised eye surface.
- Glaucoma and Medications – Over 40% of patients with Glaucoma have dry eye symptoms. Daily use of certain glaucoma medications can disrupt the tears, exacerbate MGD and worsen dry eye symptoms. Antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medications can also worsen dry eye symptoms.
- Climate and Environment – Conditions such as wind, smoke or dry climates are known to increase dry eye symptoms for those with MGD. Air-conditioning or dry heat can also contribute to eye discomfort indoors.
INTERVENTION AND PREVENTION
The Abrams Eye Institute team uses a series of evaluations to determine if you have MGD and to discover more about the causes of your Dry Eye symptoms to determine the best treatment option.
While it is essential to seek treatment from an eye care professional if you experience any symptoms of MGD or dry eye, you can also adopt simple lid hygiene practices. For the same reasons it is important to brush your teeth to prevent plaque build-up, you need to periodically clean your lids to ensure they are free from debris and excess oils that, over time, can clog the meibomian glands and lead to eye discomfort and MGD.
Lid hygiene may include:
- Eyelid scrubs for lids and lashes
- In-office debridement/scaling performed by an eye care professional
- Blink evaluation, training, and exercises
Treatments for Dry Eye Relief
Your eye care professional may provide various options for the treatment of Dry Eye and MGD, including some of the following:
- Ocular Lubricants or Prescription Eye Drops are used to provide temporary relief of dry eye symptoms by adding fluid to the eye.
- Punctal Plugs are inserted into the tear ducts to block the outflow of tears. The goal is to hold the tears in the eye.
- Eye Lid Scrubs are used to remove debris from the eyelashes and the lid margins. Lid hygiene is key to maintaining the health of the meibomian glands and surface of the eye. Good lid hygiene requires that both the lashes and lid margins be cleaned regularly. The importance of good lid hygiene is similar to good oral hygiene, like brushing and flossing teeth regularly.
- Warm/Hot Compresses heat the eyelids from the front surface. However, it is difficult to achieve and sustain the level of heat needed to treat MGD using front surface heating. Compliance with the daily use of compresses is an essential part of this therapy.
- Omega 3 Oils suppress systemic inflammation, which contributes to dry eye symptoms.
At the heart of the AEI Dry Eye Center of Excellence is a revolutionary new treatment called Lipiflow. Now, with the breakthrough LipiFlow® technology, it’s possible to treat the root cause of MGD directly.
While there are multiple choices available for treating MGD, LipiFlow is the only FDA-cleared device for removing gland blockages and restoring gland function. It is the preferred method of treatment used by Abrams Eye Institute. Through advances in the application of Vectored Thermal Pulsation (VTPTM) technology, the LipiFlow treatment utilizes a patented algorithm of heat applied to the inner eyelids and massage to remove the obstructions in your meibomian glands.
The technology we use is based on more than 25 years of research into the cause of Dry Eye. Over 25,000 treatments for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Dry Eye symptoms have been completed with our treatment, including patients in a randomized, controlled, multi-center clinical trial. The randomized, controlled trial showed statistically significant improvement, on average, for the number of Meibomian glands releasing clear liquid (oil).
Punctal Occlusion is a common treatment offered in our Las Vegas clinic. It is used to treat chronic dry eyes by plugging or blocking some of a person’s small tear-draining openings, called puncta. This restricts the flow of tears out of the eye and causing them to pool up in the eye longer.
There are two main types of punctal occlusion: punctal plugs and punctal cautery. Punctal plugs are the more common type of punctal occlusion. Punctal plugs are plugs used to close up a couple of a person’s four puncta, so tears do not escape as quickly. Collagen punctal plugs, which eventually dissolve on their own, are usually used first before silicone plugs are placed. By testing with collagen plugs first, ophthalmologists are able to make sure that the plugs will help solve the person’s dry eye problems before they try more evasive methods.
The other main method of punctal occlusion involves an ophthalmologist surgically and permanently cauterizing a person’s tear ducts closed. This is a permanent solution that while more invasive than punctal plugs, ensures that people who are effectively helped by punctal occlusion have their dry eye problems solved once and for all in a single treatment.
Costs of Dry Eye Treatment
Because Dr. Abrams is a leading expert in the field of ophthalmology and dry eye treatment, he has greater access to new technology like our treatment system. This allows us to be able to offer treatment at a lower cost than most other centers. The treatment is performed right in your doctor’s office and in some cases, on the same day as your evaluation. Imagine: Just a short time after successful treatment with our system, you may go long periods of time without thinking about your eyes. You may no longer have to plan your day around your symptoms. After a few weeks, you may even start to forget about how much the condition was controlling your life.
Let’s Get Started
Call 702-430-2321, or click here, to schedule a consultation or exam and see how our dry eye treatment may be able to help you.