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 dry eye symptoms 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 Primary Eye Care in Arlington, our expert team has the knowledge, experience, and technology to properly diagnose and treat dry eye.
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye syndrome is a condition when your tears are insufficient 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 heal wounds, 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. Meibomian gland dysfunction (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
- Exposure to cold, smoke, and dry climates
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may have dry eye syndrome:
- 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
- Fluctuating vision
Symptoms may be made worse by activities like 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.
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
Dr. Artee Nanji and the team at Primary Eye Care utilize the latest in technology to properly diagnose dry eye.
Oculus Keratograph 5M
We use advanced technology called the OCULUS Keratograph 5M to examine your eyes. The Keratograph 5M has a high-resolution color camera and is equipped with intelligent software to analyze the collected data and document the findings. It can also compare the results and show the success of the dry eye treatment.
Dry eye treatment can now be targeted to address the underlying cause of the problem. Some patients suffer from a lack of tear production and others from excessive evaporation of their tears. Most suffer from a combination of both problems. After a comprehensive eye exam using the advanced diagnostic tools provided by the Keratograph 5M, your Primary Eye Care doctor can more accurately assess the precise cause and severity of your dry eye. Using this detailed information, they can recommend the best course of treatment to address your specific problem.
How is Dry Eye Treated?
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.
We also offer treatments for dry eye in our office.
Dry Eye Treatments Offered at Primary Eye Care in Arlington
OptiLight by Lumenis
OptiLight is intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy that targets inflammation that leads to ocular surface disease and dry eye. It is the only IPL treatment approved by the FDA. This procedure not only quickly alleviates symptoms of dry eye and provides needed relief but is also a good fit for people who have rosacea, blepharitis, and meibomian gland dysfunction. The doctor may recommend OptiLight therapy in conjunction with TearCare® for the best results.
The TearCare® System is an FDA-approved treatment for people with dry eye due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which is the most common reason people develop dry eye.
Meibomian glands line the inside of the upper and lower eyelids and produce the oil layer on the tear film. A blocked or clogged meibomian gland prevents our eyes from secreting this oil. When this crucial lipid layer is missing from the tear film due to a blockage, it results in our tears evaporating faster than normal and causes dry eye symptoms. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can become progressively worse if left untreated.
TearCare® is a 15-minute in-office procedure used to treat meibomian gland dysfunction. Single-use flexible eyelid devices are gently adhered to the eyelids, and low heat therapy is used in conjunction with the blinking eye to remove blockages from the meibomian glands.
Allergy Testing by AllerFocus™
If you are suffering from allergy symptoms but have no idea what you’re allergic to, we offer allergy testing to ascertain what is causing your symptoms. If you’re taking medications for your allergies, some of them can cause symptoms of dry eye, so it’s best to avoid taking them unless you are exposed to allergens which are unavoidable. If the allergens are unavoidable, AllerFocus™ can provide sublingual immunotherapy to help you build a tolerance to the allergens so that you can stop taking the allergy medications which are causing your symptoms of dry eye.
Schedule an Appointment at Primary Eye Care
If you are suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, our expert doctor and team are here to help you determine the underlying causes of your dry eye and get relief. Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive eye exam at our Arlington location today.