Dry eye is a chronic eye condition that tends to become worse over time. it is exceptionally common in our arid Colorado environment. If untreated, dry eye can interfere with your ability to take part in everyday activities you enjoy.
- Irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes
- A feeling of something in the eyes
- Excessive watering
- Blurred vision
Ironically, some people suffer from dry eye with little to no discomfort initially. While it may seem like a good thing not to experience regular symptoms, without them patients and physicians may not detect the problem before it progresses and becomes harder to treat. For this reason, annual comprehensive eye exams are an easy, hassle-free way to protect your vision.
What Causes Dry Eye?
For some, dry eye is simply due to insufficient tears. Tears keep the eye moist, wash out dust and debris, and are essential to good eye health. Without this lubrication, the eyes become irritated and feel dry and scratchy. Air temperature, humidity, alcohol consumption, smoking, and other types of air pollution can affect tear quantity and dryness. The aging process, chronic health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, and some medications can also interfere with the production of tears. Antihistamines (such as Benadryl), anti-depressants, and some blood pressure medications can contribute to dry eye problems.
However, more commonly, dry eye is due to poor tear quality. To be effective, tears must contain the correct balance of water, mucous, and oil. The oil component in tears is produced by glands located on the inner surface of the eyelids, called meibomian glands. When these glands are blocked (meibomian gland dysfunction, MGD), tears lack the oil they need to keep from evaporating too quickly. This condition is called evaporative dry eye. More than 85% of people diagnosed with dry eye have the evaporative form.
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed and Treated?
Our team may perform one or a combination of diagnostic tests to first determine if dry eye is the issue and (if so) identify the underlying cause. Then we can select an appropriate treatment plan from a wide range of options.
By identifying the root cause of a patient's dry eye, whether it's the more common MGD or some other ocular issue, our team is able to create personalized treatment plans designed around the needs of each individual patient, as well as eliminate the burden of future dry eye symptoms.
Advanced Treatments of the Causes of Dry Eye - Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
If standard treatments such as warm compresses, anti-inflammatory eye drops, and oral antibiotics are not effective, our team may recommend IPL dry eye treatment. IPL has been used in dermatology for years to treat rosacea and acne, because it reduces inflammation when applied to the skin. Because inflammation often plays a role in MGD, this light-based treatment has been shown to help meibomian glands heal and function properly. Additionally, the light may kill bacteria and contribute to healing, while the heat from the light melts oil in the meibomian glands, allowing gland openings to release oil naturally and easily.
When you are ready for dry eye relief, request a dry eye exam.