What is Dry Eye?
In a healthy eye, tears are responsible for perfectly smooth ocular surface which allows clear vision. Tears also clean and lubricate the eye. Every time we blink, a fresh layer of tears, called the Tear film, spreads over the eye, The Tear film is important for keeping the eye moist and comfortable. Sometimes, the eye may stop producing enough tears or tears evaporate too quickly. This common and often chronic condition is referred to as dry eye syndrome.
It Affects your Quality of Life!
People with dry eye syndrome may experience irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. The level of discomfort is increased if you wear contact lenses or live in a dry climate. Paying attention to dry eye symptoms is important. If left untreated it may become so severe that it interferes with work and normal life activities.
Causes of Dry Eye
Lifestyle – staring at computer screens, televisions, or electronic readers for long periods of time, exposure to air conditioning, wind, smoke, and dry climates
Age – dry eye syndrome often gets worse as we age
Gender – women are more likely to develop dry eye
Other factors – long term us of contact lenses, refractive eye surgery, some medications, medical conditions, such as, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems and inflammation of the eyelids
The Tear Film
The tear film is structured with 3 components that work together: a complex mucus component, a watery portion (Aqueous) and a complex oil outer layer (Lipid).
The oil component (Lipid) is important for reducing evaporation of tears and also provides structure to the tear film. Lipid is produced by the meibomian glands and is injected into the tears with each blink. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) can create a deficiency in the lipid component of the tears, which leads to evaporative dry eye.
The watery component produced by the lacrimal glands (Aqueous) is also important. A lack of aqueous production can result in another type of dry eye called aqueous deficient dry eye. Aqueous deficient dry eye can be associated with disorder such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Meibomian Glands and their role
Located in both upper and lower lids, the Meibomian glands produce complex oils that stabilize the tear film and prevent tear evaporation. If the Meibomian glands do not function properly dry eye usually occurs.
Dry Eye Treatments
There has been a veritable explosion in understanding the causes of dry eye. A variety of options are now available to help people who suffer from dry eyes. Current approaches include advanced artificial tear eye drop formulations, prescription eye drops that increase tear production and reduce inflammation, and new approaches to effectively treat Meibomian gland dysfunction, which is now understood to play a primary role in most dry eye cases.
Dry eye treatment can now be targeted to address the underlying cause of the problem. Some patients suffer from a lack of tear production, other from excessive evaporation of their tears. Most suffer from a combination of both problems. After a comprehensive examination advanced diagnostic tools, your doctor can more accurately assess the prices cause and severity of your dry eye. Using this detailed information, they can recommend the best course of treatment to address your specific problem.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. The condition presents with many of the same symptoms as dry eye and can be associated with skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. Symptoms include excessive tearing and burning, feeling like something is in the eye (foreign body sensation), light sensitivity, red and swollen eyes or lids, fluctuation vision, and crusting of the eye lids.
Blepharitis has two basic forms, anterior and posterior blepharitis. The anterior form affects the outside front of the eyelid where eyelashes are attached. The posterior form is dysfunction of the Meibomian gland within the eyelids that secret oils to help lubricate the eye.
It is common to have a mixture of both anterior and posterior forms of blepharitis and different degrees of severity. Although eye doctors can easily diagnose blepharitis it tends to be harder to treat symptoms.
What causes Blepharitis?
Anterior blepharitis is commonly caused by bacteria (Staphylococcal blepharitis) or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows (Seborrheic blepharitis). It may also occur due to a combination of factors, or less commonly may be the results of allergies or an infestation of the eyelashes.
Posterior blepharitis can be caused by irregular oil production by the glands of the eyelids (Meibomian gland dysfunction). This creates a favorable environment for bacteria growth and can lead to styes or pink eye. It can also develop as a manifestation of other skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and scalp dandruff.
What does Blepharitis and Dry Eye have in common?
Because blepharitis and dry eyes are partners in crime, your eye doctor may advise you to use over the counter or prescription eye drops to help relieve symptoms.
How to prevent Blepharitis?
Removing all eye makeup before bedtime and refraining from applying eyeliner to the waterline of the eyelids (behind the eyelashes)
Avoid the use of eye makeup during a flare-up to prevent further irritation/infection. Once you treat the flare-up with the suggestions in the brochure and your symptoms start to subside you may resume makeup application.
Note you must always regularly replace any products used in or around your eyes.
Wellness Exam and Annual Screenings
Early detection is important for preserving your eyesight. Many eye disorders that lead to discomfort and reduced vision are easily treatable if diagnosed early. Regular eye wellness exams are recommended by eye care professionals. Our doctors here at Latrobe Vision Center are experts in treating Dry Eye, Blepharitis and much more. Since everyone’s life and eyes are unique, we tailor our solutions to specifically address the challenges of each patient. Our methods are designed to give the largest amount of relief with the least amount of intervention. Call to schedule your appointment today!