For well over fifty years, when Dry Eye became a recognized eye disease state, eye care professionals have associated symptoms of consistently tired, irritated, scratchy, burning or watery eyes to this condition. In fact, Dry Eye has long been the “catch-all” diagnosis for what was believed to be a lack of tear production. Dry Eye Syndrome leaves the surface of our eyes susceptible to increased discomfort when exposed to wind, dry climates or air conditioning. Normal everyday activities such as reading, watching TV, using computers, tablets and smartphones can also lead to increased irritation.
Dry Eye is a problem for an estimated 300 million people around the world. Today, aside from some advances in eye drops, treatment options for Dry Eye are as limited as they were fifty years ago. As frustrated as millions are with the bothersome and sometimes lifestyle-hindering affects of Dry Eye, eye care professionals have been equally as frustrated trying to offer an effective treatment for their patients.
Fast-forward to 2014 and my how things have changed. Could it be that this nefarious diagnosis for millions of Americans called Dry Eye is not in fact 100% correct? After 40 years of research, it has now come to light that Dry Eye sufferers may have a contributing problem that can be treated. We now know that the most common culprit for these constant, annoying Dry Eye symptoms are blockages in tiny glands in the eyelids. These tiny glands are important as they produce oils ensuring sustainability of the protective watery layer in the eyes. This condition is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and is the root cause of Dry Eye in roughly 90% of patients.
As many in the eye care profession begin to embrace MGD and diagnose a lack of oil production (MGD) verses lack of tear production (Aqueous Dry Eye), the blanket dry eye diagnosis is now being challenged. The fact is that Aqueous Dry Eye conditions only affect a small percentage of the Dry Eye population and MGD affects the largest portion. Both are chronic and progressive diseases, but there is a major difference with MGD in that we can now interrupt MGD progression by unblocking the oil producing glands with revolutionary new treatment capabilities. But first, an accurate and timely proper diagnosis of MGD is necessary.
Today over 250 eye care professionals in the United States offer the most innovative diagnostic instruments on the market today for properly diagnosing MGD. These tools include the Korb MGE and LipiView. These instruments provide the metrics necessary to precisely determine Meibomian Gland health and whether the LipiFlow treatment may be the answer to annoying Dry Eye symptoms. As the number of practices with the latest in MGD diagnostic capabilities rapidly expands, Dry Eye patients and eye care professionals everywhere must ask themselves a simple question that could be life-changing for millions who have been told they have dry eye: Is it Dry Eye or is it MGD?
If you have Dry Eye symptoms or have been told you have Dry Eye, ask your eye care professional about MGD. Find a qualified eye care professional near you with the latest in MGD diagnosis and treatment capabilities.