Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common eye conditions in the United States today. Millions of Americans are affected every year. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can range from mild to severe, and patients find symptoms to be very frustrating at times. Here at Georgia Eye Associates, we are proud to offer multiple dry eye symptom treatment options.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by malfunctioning tear glands. This can mean that you are simply not creating enough tears to lubricate the eye, or that the tears are lacking one of their three components.
The tear film is made up of three layers:
- Oil (lipid) layer: the outer layer of the tear film that seals the tear film to help reduce tear evaporation
- Water (aqueous) layer: lubricates the eye, washes away particles and prevents infection
- Mucin layer: the innermost layer that helps the water layer to spread evenly over the eye
The most common form is called an evaporative dry eye. Evaporative dry eye occurs when the glands that are responsible for creating the lipid layer of the tear film are not working properly. The lack of a lipid layer causes the middle aqueous layer to evaporate quickly and not spread as evenly over the eye. When this happens, you will begin to experience the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
One of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome is watery eyes. While this may seem odd, this is your eye producing more of the water layer as a protective measure against the dryness. Unfortunately, this does not help to solve the issue.
Other common symptoms of dry eye syndrome:
- Persistent dry feeling
- Red eyes
- Burning sensation
- Foreign body sensation
If you are experiencing these symptoms, your doctor will test you for dry eye syndrome. A thin strip of filter paper will be placed under the lower eyelid to measure tear production. This is called a Schirmer test. Your doctor will conduct further testing to confirm that there is a deficiency in the tear film. After confirming that you have dry eye syndrome, and the type of dry eye syndrome that you have, your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment for you.
There are many causes of dry eyes. Aging, hormonal changes, medication, and the environment can all affect a person’s eyes.
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common reasons patients see an eye doctor. The doctors at Georgia Eye Associates are experienced in the causes and treatments of dry eye syndrome, including the treatment of Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
What Is Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)?
There are three layers that make up a person’s tear film to keep eyes from drying out. The layers are made up of water, mucus, and oils.
The oils are named Meibum, after the German doctor who observed them. Each eye has 25-40 Meibomian glands in the upper eyelid and 20-30 in the lower.
These glands secrete oils or Meibum onto the surface of the eye. The oil in the Meibum helps prevent the water layer from evaporating too quickly from the surface of the eye.
Changes to the amount or quality of Meibum or to the glands themselves can lead to Meibomian gland dysfunction. The most common type of dysfunction is when the gland openings get clogged.
If the gland openings get clogged, not enough oil can reach the surface of the eye. Though MGD is a common problem with the eyes, many people don’t realize they have it. One of the safest and most successful treatments for MGD is the iLux Device.
What Is iLux And How Does It Work?
iLux is a state-of-the-art procedure to treat Meibomian gland dysfunction. iLux uses light-based heat and compression, tailored to each patient by the physician who uses a magnifying lens for precise treatment.
The iLux is a hand-held device that treats both the upper and lower eyelids safely with therapeutic heat levels. It has a one-button control of heating and compression that warms the iLux Smart Tip.
The Smart Tip has an inner pad that slips behind the eyelid being treated and an outer pad that is pressed against the outer surface of the eye for comfort and stability during treatment. iLux is safe, quick, and effective, and can be easily performed right at your eye doctor’s office.
Who Is A Good Candidate For iLux Treatment?
Good candidates for iLux may experience the following symptoms:
- A foreign body sensation, like something is in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Inability or difficulty wearing contact lenses for extended periods of time because of discomfort
- Eyes that feel gritty, irritated, or itchy
- Eyes that excessively water, even after they have been dry
With continued iLux treatment, the meibomian glands can function more effectively. This allows them to produce the oil that’s necessary for a healthy and stable tear film.
Does the iLux Cause Pain?
Treatment with iLux is not painful and is in fact, quite comfortable. A patient usually feels immediate relief from dry eye after treatment with iLux.
Some patients say they feel a gentle warming sensation during the procedure. The treatment of MGD with the iLux device generally takes around 10 minutes and the patient is free to drive themselves home afterward.
Another benefit of using the iLux is that it is one of the more affordable treatments for MGD. Doctors say using the iLux is quick, efficient, and portable, so a patient doesn’t need to change rooms for treatment.
The doctor can clearly see the blocked Meibomian glands with the magnifying lens and when the blockage is cleared.
At Georgia Eye Associates, our eye care professionals are skilled in using iLux for meibomian gland dysfunction. If you think you may have MGD, make an appointment at Georgia Eye Associates in Atlanta, GA.
There are many options for dry eye treatment, such as:
- Lubricating drops: Dry eye drops can be effective in the short term. These artificial tears can be used to alleviate symptoms temporarily, and can be found over the counter.
- BlephEx®: BlephEx® is a treatment that addresses a different condition, blepharitis. Blepharitis is a common inflammatory disease of the eyelids that contributes to dry eye syndrome. This treatment cleans the eyelids and will almost immediately improve symptoms by unblocking glands on the eyelid margin. Click here to learn more about BlephEx®.
- Dry eye vitamins: Certain vitamins have been shown to significantly help those suffering from dry eye. These vitamins need to be used consistently to be effective.
- Punctal plugs: Punctal plugs are similar to the stopper in a sink. They are placed in the tear duct to prevent tears being lost. This is a more long-term treatment which helps the eye to self-lubricate.
- RESTASIS®: Helps increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye.
- Xiidra®: Xiidra improves patient-reported symptoms of eye dryness and signs of inferior corneal staining in clinical trials.
Your doctor will be able to determine which treatment is best for your individual eyes. If you have been experiencing dry eye symptoms and you’re ready to do something about them, give us a call today!