What Causes Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a result of inadequate tear production or tears that are of poor quality, both of which lead to a lack of lubrication on the eye’s surface. For most people who suffer from dry eye, the cause is a blockage of the meibomian glands, which reside in the eyelids. These glands release meibum, a moisturizing oil that covers the surface of the eye each time a person blinks. When the meibomian glands don’t function properly or become blocked, insufficient meibum release causes tears to evaporate more quickly than they should. This leads to evaporative dry eye, which affects up to 86% of people with dry eye.1,2
How is Dry Eye Syndrome Diagnosed?
When patients complain of dry, irritated eyes, our doctors can perform a number of tests to diagnose the source of their discomfort. This allows us to recommend the most appropriate treatment for their dry eye syndrome. These tests may include:
- Schirmer Test: This test measures the rate of tear production.
- Corneal Staining: To assess the condition of the front of a patient’s eye and tear quality.
- Tear Break-Up Test: Helps us to determine the stability of tear film.
- External Examination: With an external exam, the doctor looks for signs of blepharitis and also evaluates blink dynamics and the structure of the eyelids.
- Magnification: Magnifying the view of the eye helps doctors evaluate the cornea and eyelids in great detail.
- Laboratory Tests: In some cases, a medical condition may be the source of a patient’s dry eye syndrome.
Home Remedies for Dry Eye
If you are suffering from the symptoms of dry eye, there are some home remedies you may try to get relief. These include:
- Lubricating Eye Drops or Artificial Tears: This is often the first step to relief from dry eye symptoms. Be sure to look for eye drops that are designed to lubricate, not just reduce redness.
- Environmental Changes: Reducing screen time and wearing glare-protection glasses can help alleviate dry eye and eye fatigue from looking at a computer screen. You may also try directing fans and vents away from your eyes and protecting your eyes in dry or windy weather.
- Warm Compress: A warm, moist compress applied to the eyes for 15 minutes at a time can help unblock meibomian glands and trigger the eyes to produce more tears. This also helps comfort eyes that are irritated.
- Supplements and Vitamins: A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help with tear production, and eye health supplements may also help.
Professional Dry Eye Treatment
For patients who do not achieve suitable relief with home and over-the-counter remedies for dry eye syndrome, our doctors can provide effective treatment. This may include:
Prescription Eye Drops
Our doctors can prescribe specialized lubricating eye drops such as RestasisⓇ or XiidraⓇ to help lubricate the surface of the eye and minimize irritation. These drops can help patients’ bodies produce more tears.
Punctal plugs, also known as tear duct plugs, are small devices that our doctors insert into the inner corners of the eyelids. These plugs prevent tears from leaving the eyes too quickly, promoting lasting lubrication and alleviating symptoms of dry eye.
Most patients who suffer from dry eye syndrome have meibomian gland dysfunction, where the gland that produces oil to lubricate the eye is blocked or not working properly. The Systane® iLux device from Alcon allows us to provide highly effective, non-surgical treatment for this leading cause of evaporative dry eye disease.3
iLux softens oil buildup and blockages in the meibomian glands using gentle heat and pressure. This FDA-approved device is placed over the patient’s eyelid for roughly 15 minutes in the comfort of our office, then the doctor applies gentle compression to remove excess oil blocking the glands.
Most patients say treatment with iLux feels like a relaxing, warm massage. Best of all, they enjoy prompt and lasting relief from dry eye symptoms.
BlephExⓇ for Blepharitis
Many of our patients with dry eye also suffer from blepharitis, a condition caused by an accumulation of bacteria on or under the eyelids. Often, blepharitis is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, another leading cause of dry eye syndrome.
BlephEx is a medical grade micro-sponge that our doctors gently sweep over the inner and outer surface of the eyelids to remove bacteria and biofilm that accumulate along the lids and within the eyelashes. The sponge also helps to exfoliate the area, preventing or delaying future buildup. To complete treatment, the doctor gently rinses away any debris.4
In total, treatment with BlephEx takes less than ten minutes and yields an immediate decrease in blepharitis symptoms that cause dry eye.
Contact Us to Schedule a Dry Eye Exam
To request a Dry Eye exam, please complete the form below and our Dry Eye Coordinator will be in touch with you shortly.
1 Lemp MA, Crews LA, Bron AJ, Foulks GN, Sullivan BD. Distribution of aqueous-deficient and evaporative dry eye in a clinic-based patient cohort: a retrospective study. Cornea. 2012 May;31(5):472-8. doi: 10.1097/ICO.0b013e318225415a. PMID: 22378109. Available: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22378109/. Accessed June 28, 2021.
2 Findlay Q, Reid K. Dry eye disease: when to treat and when to refer. Aust Prescr. 2018;41(5):160-163. doi:10.18773/austprescr.2018.048. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6202299/. Accessed June 28, 2021.
3 Tauber J, Owen J, Bloomenstein M, Hovanesian J, Bullimore MA. Comparison of the iLUX and the LipiFlow for the Treatment of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Symptoms: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Clin Ophthalmol. 2020;14:405-418. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7024784/. Accessed June 28m 2021.
4 Alcon. BlephEx Information for Providers. Available: https://professional.myalcon.com/ocular-health/dry-eye/blephex/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw5uWGBhCTARIsAL70sLI2MesSKSdBtmFZDUBOvHbDOWmV1sV5Z3zr7juQ7puhPpuM0pPCp_YaAsqHEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds. Accessed June 28, 2021.