Many people are surprised to learn that dry eye is an actual condition and not just a symptom. Dry eyes affect most people at some point during their lifetime, but for some, it will become a chronic condition that leaves them suffering from a range of uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. These include dryness, irritation, itching, blurred vision, and more.
There are several different potential causes of dry eye. One of the most common is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD for short. The meibomian glands are responsible for producing oil that forms part of the tear film and gives it its lubricating qualities. When these glands become blocked by hardened oil deposits, or fail to work properly, the tear film quality is compromised, making it less effective than it should be and causing the symptoms of dry eyes. Another common cause of dry eye is the tear film draining away too quickly. This can happen if the drainage channels are too open.
Although it is possible to diagnose dry eye through symptoms alone, understanding the underlying cause of dry eye is essential to ensuring that you receive the right treatment as soon as possible. Otherwise, you could spend months trying different therapies that are ineffective because they simply don’t target the issue causing your symptoms.
One of the ways in which we get to the bottom of what is causing dry eye is by performing a test called a LipiScan.
LipiScan is a non-invasive procedure that enables eye doctors to see and analyze the health of the meibomian glands. This simple diagnostic test uses imaging technology to take clear, high-resolution, and multi-dimensional pictures of your meibomian glands. Our team can then analyze these to identify whether meibomian gland dysfunction is responsible for your dry eye.
There is a range of different therapies that can be used to treat dry eye, and as we know, determining the underlying cause of the condition is important to ensure that you get the right treatment as soon as possible.
Some of the treatment options that may be recommended include the following:
Artificial Tears - They are used to lubricate the eyes, but don’t actually treat the underlying cause of the condition
Medicated Eyedrops - These usually contain anti-inflammatories or drugs that stimulate tear production for short-term relief
Punctal inserts - These contain slow-release lubricating substances that are placed inside the lower eyelids
LipiFlow is a highly effective, FDA-approved thermo-pulsation therapy used to treat dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. The therapy uses a combination of heat and gentle massage of the meibomian glands to break down any hardened oil deposits, enabling them to pass out of the glands and restore normal tear film production. This treatment is applied via special pads placed over the eyes that are then attached to the LipiFlow device. Patients may require several sessions to achieve the optimal improvement in their symptoms.
If you would like more information about diagnosing and treating dry eye, please speak to our experienced vision experts at Cincinnati Vision Group in Cincinnati and Liberty Township, Ohio at (513) 753-4981, (513) 793-5970, or (513) 712-5065 today.