About Dry Eye

About Dry Eye

About Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is reaching epidemic proportions in the United States. An estimated 3.2 million women over the age of 50 and 1.7 million men over the age of 50 are affected by symptoms. As the ocular surface is damaged pain, redness and sensitivity to light can occur. 



If you have one or more of these symptoms, you may benefit from treatment at TearWell:
  • Dryness
  • Discomfort
  • Grittiness (foreign body sensation)
  • Watery
  • Fatigue
  • Discharge
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
     
Circumstances that make dry eye worse:
  • Environmental changes: Windy, dusty, smoky and dry conditions often exacerbate symptoms. Places like airplanes, office buildings, and cars are often troublesome for sufferers. Any place with low humidity and/or high wind (air conditioners/heat) may increase symptoms. 
  • Activities: Computer use for extended periods of time, driving, and watching television or movies are common activities that aggravate dry eyes.
  • Medications: Physicians and pharmacists rarely mention dry eye as a side effect of drugs that are prescribed, because it seems like a like a small problem relative to systemic side effects like kidney or liver damage. However, many people find that the resultant dryness can make a significant mark on their quality of life. For a complete list of systemic drugs effecting dry eye click here 

*Do not discontinue any prescription medications without contacting your doctor.

Understanding the Tear Film

The tear layer is eye’s first defense to the harsh, external environment. It is composed of three layers: a lipid layer, an aqueous layer, and a mucous layer. Each of those layers has to be balanced properly to provide sufficient comfort and vision quality.
  • Oil Layer: The purpose of the oil layer is to maintain tears on the surface of the eye and avoid evaporation. The oil component of the tears is produced by the meibomian glands that line the perimeter of the eyelash margin. The oil layer is responsible for keeping tears from spilling out of the eye. Good oil quality looks similar to olive oil, but many dry eye sufferers have glands that are clogged with a hardened, waxy substance that doesn’t allow for free flow of this elemental substance. This complication leads to Evaporative Dry Eye.
  • Aqueous Layer: The aqueous layer makes up the watery layer commonly thought of as tears. It contains water and proteins and is secreted by small glands in the conjunctiva and the larger lacrimal gland. The aqueous layer makes up the majority of the tear volume and is responsible for tear spreading.
  • Mucous Layer: The mucous layer works as an anchor to hold the tear film to the eye. It coats the cornea and allows even distribution.
Understanding the tear film is still at its inception. Examination of dry eye patients requires a unique understanding of the spatial relations and dimensions of the tear film. The quality and quantity of tears alternate through the dynamic tear cycle. Therefore, a static image, or “snapshot in time,” does not provide enough information about the true status of the tear film.

The Two Main Forms of Dry Eye Disease
  • Evaporative Dry Eye: accounts for 86% of all dry eye and is caused by blockage of the meibomian glands that line the lash margin (also, known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD). The limited secretion of oil by these glands leads to quick evaporation of tears. Poor or insufficient oil layer may lead to tears evaporating 4-16 times faster than normal.
  • Aqueous Dry Eye: occurs when the lacrimal gland does not produce enough of the water component to keep the eyes moist. This results in concentrated tear film (hyperosmolarity) and unstable tear film. The final conclusion is a dry ocular surface.
The two types of dry eye disease may present in isolation or occur simultaneously. 

 

The Two Main Forms of Dry Eye Disease

  • Evaporative Dry Eye: accounts for 86% of all dry eye and is caused by blockage of the meibomian glands that line the lash margin (also, known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD). The limited secretion of oil by these glands leads to quick evaporation of tears. Poor or insufficient oil layer may lead to tears evaporating 4-16 times faster than normal.
  • Aqueous Dry Eye: occurs when the lacrimal gland does not produce enough of the water component to keep the eyes moist. This results in concentrated tear film (hyperosmolarity) and unstable tear film. The final conclusion is a dry ocular surface.


The two types of dry eye disease may present in isolation or occur simultaneously.

 

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