Diagnosis and Treatment

Dry Eye

Diagnosis and Treatment

Dry Eye

Diagnosis and Treatment for Dry Eye

Did you know over 100 million people worldwide suffer from the condition known as dry eye? If you are one of them, then you know the symptoms of dry eye are very uncomfortable. Determining the root cause of your case of dry eye is key to getting the treatment you need to find lasting relief. 

At Ascension Optical, our expert doctors have the knowledge, experience, and technology to properly diagnose and treat dry eye.

What is dry eye?

Dry eye occurs when your tears are not of sufficient quality to keep the front surface of the eye properly lubricated. The symptoms of dry eye can mimic those of other issues like eye allergies, so it tends to be underdiagnosed. Tears help give you clear vision, lubricate your eyes, protect against infection, and help with wound healing, so the proper production and drainage of tears is a vital part of maintaining optimal eye health and vision.

What causes dry eye? 

The most common reason people develop dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD.

The meibomian glands are small oil glands located in the upper and lower eyelids which secrete oil that coats the surface of the eyes and prevents moisture from evaporating. Water, oil, and mucin layers make up the tear film, and this tear film is what keeps the surface of the eye healthy.  MGD occurs when the oil-producing meibomian glands are clogged and unable to create a healthy tear film to keep the eyes properly lubricated.

Other underlying causes of dry eye include the following:

  • Hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives, and menopause
  • Antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, and antidepressants
  • Certain diseases and conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, arthritis, diabetes, or thyroid problems.
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids)
  • Exposure to cold, smoke, and dry climates

Symptoms of dry eye

Symptoms of dry eye include burning, stinging, or itching eyes, a scratchy or sandy feeling in your eyes, increased sensitivity to light, eye pain or redness, stringy mucus or discharge from your eyes, and fluctuating vision.

Symptoms may be worsened by driving, reading, computer use, or watching TV, as you blink less often at these times. When your eyes are not properly lubricated, they are more likely to dry out and become irritated.

Treatment options for dry eye 

Treatment for dry eye depends on the underlying cause of the problem, so our treatment plans are customized based on the individual’s needs. While dry eye can be a chronic condition, we prescribe treatment to help patients maintain healthy eyes, minimize dryness and discomfort, and prevent vision from being affected. Some of the typical treatments include:

  • Prescription eye drops to combat inflammation
  • Treating oil glands
  • Blinking exercises or proper eyelid hygiene
  • If an infection is causing the issue, low-dose antibiotics may also be prescribed.

Intense pulsed light therapy for dry eye 

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy has been used by dermatologists for decades to treat rosacea. IPL is also a highly effective treatment for chronic dry eye and meibomian gland dysfunction, and we offer these treatments in our office. 

IPL therapy uses wavelengths of light to reduce inflammation and works on the root cause of most cases of chronic dry eye, meibomian gland dysfunction. During IPL therapy, the heat generated by the wavelengths of light softens oils that have become hardened and have clogged the meibomian glands so that the blockages are removed, relieving chronic dry eye symptoms and improving the quality of the tears.

We begin the therapy by placing shields over the eyes to protect them from the wavelengths of light. After placing the shields over the eyes, a cooling gel is applied to the treatment area and a small device painlessly administers the light to the area around the eyelids which will break up the clogged buildup.

After the wavelengths of light are administered, oil is expressed from the meibomian glands to restore the flow of oil in the tear film. Patients can experience an improvement in the symptoms of dry eye after the first treatment, but typically the recommended length of the therapy is to undergo monthly treatments for a four-month period.

You may experience blurry vision for a few days after the treatment, and this shouldn’t be a concern as it means that the meibomian glands are producing more oil than the eyes are used to. Aside from some blurriness in the vision, there’s no reason for downtime, and patients can resume daily activities right away.

Schedule an eye exam at Ascension Optical 

If you are suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, our expert doctors are here to help you determine the underlying causes of your dry eye and get relief. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for an eye exam.