Dry Eye is a long-term chronic disease that takes years to develop and may worsen if left untreated. More than 100 million people have Dry Eyes.
The symptoms of Dry Eye can be uncomfortable- and a big burden. Basic visual tasks, such as reading, using a computer, driving or watching television may become difficult. Wearing contact lenses may be impossible. And, you might find that symptoms worsen later in the day, keeping you from enjoying the activities you want to do.
Some Common Symptoms of Dry Eye include;
- Discomfort and irritation
- Grittiness or feeling of a foreign body in the eye
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Vision disturbance
- Sensitivity to light
Underlying the considerable discomfort is a real physical condition that needs treatment to stop the cycle of Dry Eye deterioration and worsening symptoms.
Dry Eye is a chronic disease- and without proper management, the deterioration may look like this:
- Increased evaporation of tears
- Unstable tear film
- Damage to the eye surface
- Further discomfort
- Inflammation and cell damage
- Fluctuation and decrease in vision
Types of Dry Eye Disease
There are two main forms of the disease: Evaporative and Aqueous deficient.
Evaporative Dry Eye, which accounts for 86% of all dry eye cases, is caused by blockages in the Meibomian glands located in your eyelids. This condition of obstructed glands is known as Meibomian Gland Dys¬function. These glands are responsible for creating the lipid (oil) layer of tears. When the glands aren't working as they should, you don't have enough tear film oil. And your tears- which lubricate your eyes and keep them comfortable- evaporate too quickly.
If you're a moderate or severe Evaporative Dry Eye sufferer, life can seem like a constant battle to alleviate symptoms. Those drops and warm compresses become a regular ritual. You've tried blinking exercises and lid scrubs. And you avoid wearing contact lenses and extended sessions in front of the computer.
If this sounds familiar, you may need LipiFlow, it's the breakthrough treatment for evaporative Dry Eye.
Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye occurs when the lacrimal glands do not create a sufficient amount of aqueous (water) to keep the eyes moist. The lacrimal glands are almond shaped glands, one in each eye, responsible for secreting the aqueous layer of the tear film.
Aqueous tear deficiency can be measured with tests such as the Schirmer lacrimation test where your tears are collected over a period of 5 mins and then measured to determine the production rate. A severe aqueous deficiency will be apparent under slit-lamp examination.
Treating aqueous tear deficiency partly involves adding lubrication to the eyes through artificial tears. There are many different forms of eye drops, gels, ointments etc that can help provide moisture and lubrication to the surface of the eye. Artificial tears are intended to add excess moisture and/or stabilize the components of the tear film, temporarily. This means that they only treat the symptoms, not the actual cause of dry eye.