Advanced Treatment for Dry Eyes/MGD
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic, common condition that affects people of all ages, sexes, and ethnicities. However, it occurs more frequently in older people, especially women over age 50. It can cause significant discomfort, impaired vision, and in rare cases, permanent vision loss. Healthy eyes continually produce a moist tear film that lubricates the surface of the eye and protects the cornea. Dry eye syndrome is the result of reduced tear production and function. There is no cure for dry eye syndrome, but it is a treatable condition with home therapies, medication, and in-office procedures. The Polyclinic’s Optometry and Ophthalmology departments offer a comprehensive range of specialized treatments for patients with dry eye disease.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
- Redness, burning, irritation
- A feeling like sand or grit is in the eye
- Blurred vision, especially upon waking
- Watery eyes, with excessive tearing
- Tired, sore eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Contact lens discomfort
Is It Dry Eye or MGD?
Some people have mild dry eye syndrome, but the majority of dry eyes—86 percent—are caused by a condition called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). MGD reduces the oil production in tear film and causes tears to evaporate too quickly. If dry eye is suspected, our optometrists or ophthalmic technicians can perform testing as well as imaging studies in the office to evaluate Meibomian gland function and determine if a patient has mild dry eye syndrome or MGD.
Mild dry eyes can sometimes be managed with over-the-counter or prescription eye drops, warm compresses, and other therapies. Those with moderate or severe dry eyes caused by MGD may want to consider in-office treatment options. Without treatment, the glands may continue to deteriorate and symptoms worsen. Severe and prolonged dry eye can lead to greater risk of infection, breakdown of the corneal surface, and cornea scarring or tearing.
Increased Risks for Dry Eye
- Lifestyle - Smoking, a poor diet, and activities that cause eye strain can worsen dry eye symptoms.
- Poor Blinking – Blinking activates the Meibomian glands; a low blink rate or incomplete blinking contributes to MGD.
- Contact Lens Wear – The presence of the lens on the eye disrupts the tear film.
- Computer/Device Use – People blink less during these activities resulting in less oil in tear film.
- Reading/Watching TV – Long periods of reading or watching TV without breaks can worsen dry eye.
- Eye Surgery – The eye surface is compromised after surgery and makes it more vulnerable to dry eye.
- Glaucoma/Medications – More than 40% of those with glaucoma have dry eye; some glaucoma medications can increase risk.
- Climate/Environment – Wind, smoke, and dry climates contribute to dry eye symptoms, as can indoor dry heat and air conditioning.
Dry eye testing, consultation, and gland imaging are covered by most insurance plans. At this time, the LipiFlow treatment is not covered by insurance, although patients can use HSA or FSA benefits to help cover treatment costs.
If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, contact our office at 206.860.4550 to schedule an evaluation.