Dry Eye Syndrome and Treatment in Kelowna, BC
Your tears comfort your eyes in many ways. Water moisturizes; an outer layer of oils lubricates and prevents evaporation, and proteins help protect against infection. Dry eye strikes when your eyes can’t produce enough tears for lubrication or the moisture in your tears evaporates too quickly. Glenmore Optometry provides you with excellent care and expert treatment your dry eye syndrome.
- Itchy eyes
- A gritty sensation
- Sensation of a foreign body in the eye
- Crusty eye lids
- Blurred vision
What Causes Dry Eye Disease?
- Dry eyes can occur naturally as a result of aging or hormonal changes, typically in women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or going through menopause.
- It can also result from taking certain medications that reduce tear production such as antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antidepressants.
- Environmental factors can also play a role in drying out the eyes and DED is common in areas where the climate is dry, dusty and windy.
- Home air conditioners or heating systems and excessive time spent staring at a computer or television screen can also dry out eyes and exacerbate symptoms due to the lack of blinking while staring at our screens.
Treatment for Dry Eyes
There are many treatment options for dry eyes which are highly dependant upon the cause and severity of the condition. Many mild forms of DED can be alleviated using artificial tears or lubricant eye drops to make up for the lack of natural tears usually produced by your eyes. If over-the-counter drops don’t alleviate your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe prescription drops that actually stimulate tear production or steroids for short-term relief.
Dry eye disease won't have a permanent effect on your vision, but there is no reason to endure dry, itchy and uncomfortable eyes, especially since there are so many treatment options to increase moisture and comfort. It’s also important to realize that this is a chronic disease that needs consistent treatment. Our Kelowna eye doctor will work with you to create a long term strategy to keep your eyes as comfortable as possible.
Dry Eye or MGD?
There are roughly 30 million people in the United States and over 300 million worldwide who have been diagnosed with dry eye. Most have learned to live with eye discomfort and have become dependent on drops or other treatment methods that only offer temporary relief. This has been due to a lack of understanding that the root cause of most dry eye (86%) is now known to be a chronic and progressive condition, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD.
Q&A with Dr. Darren Hatchard
Dr. Hatchard Answers Your Eye Care Questions
I understand you are one of the few practices in your area with the LipiFlow technology, can you tell us more about that?
LipiFlow is a treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). If we see that a patient has an obstruction of their glands…each person has about 25-35 glands in the upper and lower lid. If those glands are blocked for any reason, then the production of oil in the tear is decreased. If enough of those glands get blocked, then this can cause some serious problems.
Some of the new research shows that about 86% of patients with Dry Eye symptoms actually have MGD. Again, once we have diagnosed the glands are blocked, then we will use LipiFlow, the only FDA approved treatment for unblocking the glands. So far we have had some fantastic results from patients who have undergone the LipiFlow procedure.
MGD occurs when there is a compromise to the function and/or structure of the meibomian glands in the eyelids that produce the protective oily layer of the tear film. These glands can become blocked over time and can no longer produce oils needed for healthy tears. This blockage results in rapid evaporation of your tears and can lead to irritation, discomfort and if not treated, gland dropout.
A series of evaluations will be performed to determine if you have MGD. This can include a LipiView® tear film and gland imaging and a meibomian gland evaluation. Knowing what is causing your Dry Eye will help your Kelowna optometrist determine the best treatment option.
Now, with the breakthrough LipiFlow® technology, it’s possible to directly treat the root cause of MGD.
Treating MGD with LipiFlow
While there are multiple choices available for treating MGD, LipiFlow is the only FDA-cleared device for removing gland blockages and restoring gland function. Through advances in the application of Vectored Thermal Pulsation (VTPTM) technology, the LipiFlow treatment utilizes a patented algorithm of heat applied to the inner eyelids and massage to remove the obstructions in your meibomian glands.
Q&A with Dr. Dr. Darren Hatchard
Dr. Hatchard Answers Your Eye Care Questions
Is there anything else you would like your patient’s to know about Dry Eye?
I want each patient to know that we are one of the few practices in Kelowna, BC that offer the LipiView, which is part of the new LipiFlow technology. LipiFlow is the treatment, but we are also using the LipiView as a screening for patient who comes in, and this lets us view the glands and see if there is a problem.
Many patients don’t require the full-blown treatment with LipiFlow, they may only require specific drops, or the heat mask. We really want to make sure Dry Eye or MGD is detected as early as possible and LipiView helps us do that for every patient.
We want everyone suffering from Dry Eye symptoms to know they can come in and get the proper diagnosis and treatment. Relief is possible.
Does Dry Eye Affect Many People?
Dry Eye is a very common condition which we treat in our practice. Some recent research by Harris Interactive indicates that about 70% of people with dry eye don’t ever see an eye care professional. That is somewhat disturbing because a lot of patients could be helped by dry eye treatments. There are a number of treatments out there, and you can read about them here below.
In the Harris Interactive study, mentioned above, the researchers found that nearly half of all Americans experience one or more dry eye symptoms regularly. That’s pretty amazing.
Dry Eye and Digital Devices
Dry eye syndrome seems to have become more common in recent years. Perhaps with the advent of technology iPhones and other mobile devices, more people are squinting down at small print. More people than ever before are spending more time in front of computer screens, or involved in other activities that promote staring. When you stare, you blink less frequently, and this contributes to dry eyes.
- Train yourself to blink more often while using a computer.
- Take a break every 20 minutes from focusing on small text.
- Set limits to the length of time your are staring at small screens.
Dry Eye Statistics
It used to be thought that dry eye were more prevalent in women, but now we find men suffer from dry eye nearly as often. Fifty-two percent of women find they experience dry eyes on a regular basis while 43% of men are affected by more than one dry eye symptom.It’s been known that contact lens wearers are more prone to dry eye syndrome. Those who wear contacts are almost 10 times as likely to experience dry eyes as those with perfect vision, and more than 5 times as likely as those that wear glasses. Nearly 1/5 or 20% report using over the counter eye drops to treat symptoms at least 5 times a week. The majority of those who use drops to manage dry eye symptoms said that they are only somewhat successful. Almost 59 percent of adults said that they have not been to a professional for help managing dry eyes.
Dry Eye and Contact Lenses
Contact lenses are great for correcting vision, and are becoming more popular even for young patients. However, wearing contact lenses can cause dry eye, especially if they are worn for too long or if you don’t take care of them properly. Some brands are better than others, and wearing glasses seems to decrease the risk of dry eyes even more.
Furthermore the general population is aging, and the chances of developing dry eye symptoms increase with age.
Using medication, climate, and hormonal changes are other things that could cause and contribute to dry eyes.
Dry eye syndrome (DES)
Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that develops when your eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep the eye’s surface lubricated resulting in multiple symptoms that range from person to person. This can be due to a reduction in tear production or increased tear evaporation from a lack of lipid in the tears that stem from oil glands in the eyelids. The effects can range from minor dryness and discomfort to pain, blurred vision and frequent infections.
The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a condition that develops when the amount of tears produced is not sufficient to maintain the moisture balance in your eye. This can result in that scratchy sensation, a continuous feeling of dryness, stinging and a sensation of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically in an effort to fight off the condition, dry eyes can cause you to produce excessive tears, which is why some people experience watery eyes.