Dry Eye

Dry eye is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough quality tears to sufficiently lubricate the eye. Without tear lubrication, the eyes may become irritated, causing burning, itchiness and excessive watering. Patients with severe cases of dry eyes may actually experience vision impairments caused by damage to the surface of the eye. Fortunately, Loveland dry eye treatments are available to help the eye produce more of its own natural tears and also manage inflammation.

Did you know…

You may have heard a bit lately about Dry Eye and, fortunately, there are some great medications and treatments available today. Most treatments are focused on correcting tear deficiencies, but, in most cases, Dry Eye symptoms are caused by a larger problem rooted in the tiny glands in your eyelids, the Meibomian Glands. When these glands are blocked or not working, it’s called MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction) and this is the leading cause of Dry Eye symptoms. Early detection is essential as symptoms can get worse and, if left untreated, may cause permanent damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding the Tear Film and Dry Eye
The tear film consists of three layers on the outer surface of your eye and is largely responsible for everyday visual comfort. When the tear film is compromised, or destabilized, the eye surface becomes easily irritated and may become red, watery, scratchy feeling and generally uncomfortable. The top oily layer of the tear film is the protective coating on the eye surface that keeps the middle watery layer intact. When oil production is inhibited, the watery layer of the eye surface is left exposed. This is the root cause for the majority of those with Dry Eye.

Should I be treated for dry eye?

The only way of knowing whether you need treatment for dry eye is by visiting your eye doctor for a diagnostic exam. Your Loveland eye doctor may recommend treatment if you are found to have abnormal tear production that is contributing to dryness on the surface of your eyes.

What is the underlying cause of dry eye symptoms?

Long term effective treatment for Dry Eye symptoms has eluded many who have come to rely on short term relief from drops, various at-home symptom relief remedies or other prescribed medications. For many, managing symptoms is a frustrating process. The key to effective Dry Eye treatment is to understand the underlying cause of the symptoms.
Dry Eye is generally caused by an imbalance in the tear film that acts as a shield on the surface of our eyes. There are two primary contributors to tear film imbalance. The first is decreased tear production. In recent years, we have learned that true reduced tear production is rare. What we know now is that the problem almost always originates with blockage of the tiny Meibomian Glands in our eyelids. These glands produce essential oils that form the top layer of the tear film and are the core protective element that is essential to long-term visual comfort.
When the Meibomian glands are blocked or the glands have been compromised, the eye becomes exposed. This leads to dry eye signs and symptoms. This is known as MGD or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. MGD is easy to diagnose and manage. The treatment of MGD is essential for the long term management of dry eye.
 
The Leading Cause of Dry Eye Symptoms: Blocked Glands in The Eye Lids
Fortunately, most Dry Eye patients boast healthy tear production as proven by a common symptom of Dry Eye, excessive tearing. As tear production is generally not the root cause of Dry Eye, your eye care professional should check for gland blockages and the structure of your Meibomian Glands in your eyelids.
Gland blockages can occur over time from debris that is caught in the eyelids, digital device and computer usage and, for women, just putting on make-up over the course of many years. While Miebomian Gland Dysfunction, or MGD, is most often detected in adults over 40, the condition does not discriminate based on age and is often seen in kids and young adults as well. That is why checking for MGD should be a part of your regular eye exam. MGD, if caught early, is the best way to avoid chronic dry eye symptoms. More importantly, you can prevent the potential for substantial permanent gland loss.
Normal Gland Structure

Normal Gland Structure


Gland Shortening and Loss

Significant Gland Loss

Severe Gland Loss

External Dry Eye Causes
Dry Eye Syndrome and chronic Dry Eye symptoms can have significant impact on daily lifestyles and can impede on simple activities such as reading, working on a computer, enjoying the outdoors or watching a TV. Those same daily activities that are impeded by Dry Eye symptoms are also the same activities that can be contributing causes to Dry Eye.
For example, looking at computers or digital devices for long periods of time can contribute to decreased blink rates. Blinking is essential to activating the oil-producing Meibomian Glands and spreading those oils across the surface of the eye. When blink rates decrease, it impacts long term functionality of the glands and can lead to MGD or even irreversible damage if MGD is not detected and treated early. Other contributing  factors that cause Dry Eye symptoms to flare up are dry climates, smoke, indoor air circulation, and wind. Some of us are just lucky with Dry Eye being a product of the aging process.
Medical Related Dry Eye Causes
In addition to environmental factors that contribute to Chronic Dry Eye symptoms, there are various diseases, medications or medical procedures that can cause Dry Eye symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the below medical conditions or receiving any of these treatments, you should discuss with your eye doctor to get to the root cause of your Dry Eye symptoms. The following are common conditions or treatments that can lead to chronic Dry Eye Symptoms:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease and lupus
  • Medicines such as beta-blockers, antihistamines, diuretics and anxiety medications
  • Refractive surgery such as LASIK surgery
  • Various prescription and non-prescription medications
  • Swollen, red irritated eye lids, commonly referred to as Blepharitis
  • Out-turning of the eye lids (ectropion) and in-turning of the eye lids (entropion)
  • Contact lens use for long periods of timeThe tear film is a complex structure of mucin, tears and oil that protects the surface of the eyes. When the tear film is compromised, it results in a variety of symptoms, most of which have been associated with Dry Eye and MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction). Understanding the tear film is key to seeing the clear differences between tear deficiency issues and MGD, especially since MGD is more common and has greater long term impact on Dry Eye symptoms.The Sticky FoundationAqueous LayerThe aqueous layer is the “juicy” center that is comprised of tears produced by the lacrimal glands.The Oily Top
  • Finally, the top “oily” lipid layer of the tear film is made up of lipids or oils produced from the meibomian glands. When MGD is present, our glands do not consistently produce the oil necessary for a stable tear film and the aqueous layer will evaporate.
  • Lipid Layer
  • The Watery Center
  • The mucin (mucous) layer at the bottom of the tear film provides a “sticky” foundation and acts as a barrier to the eye surface.
  • Mucin Layer
  • Understanding the Tear Film

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