The Treatment Myth: Tears Can Be Supplemented
Thousands of eye care professionals and millions more have learned that most Dry Eye treatment options are frequently disappointing. Typically, the individual will make an eye care appointment with their ophthalmologist or optometrist seeking relief from the constant redness and irritation of their eyes. But as they soon find out, the treatment options are limited and most are predicated on the outdated lack of tears diagnosis model. Leading experts at the National Eye Institute now agree that only a small percentage of those affected by Dry Eye syndrome have the aqueous tear-deficient form. For the vast majority, over 90%, their Dry Eye syndrome stems for the lack of oil production. For these patients, old school treatments are not the answer.
Eye Drops – Treating The Right Problem?
The most well known dry eye treatment is over-the-counter eye drops, commonly referred to as artificial tears. In this category, there are a plethora of options including the well-known prescription eye drop solution, Restasis, which claims to increase the production of tears. If you are part of the 10% whose dry eye syndrome is Aqueous deficient based, this is your primary option. For the remaining 90%, whose tears evaporate due to a lack of oil production; eye drops are a palliative measure but do not offer an actual treatment. This is because these patients can already produce the watery part of their tears but the eye drops do not increase oil production.
Warm Compresses – Who Has The Time?
Another long-standing Dry Eye home remedy is warm compresses that can provide temporary relief when applied up to two times a day for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. In todays society, taking time out to prepare and administer a warm compresses on a hectic schedule is difficult. Thus many who could derive some benefit from warm compresses do not.
An additional problem is that warm compresses only warm the outside of the lids effectively when in fact it is the inside of the lids that require the application of consistent thermal treatment. Warm compresses are meant to stimulate the production of essential tear protecting oils and unblock the glands in the eyelids responsible for producing these oils that keep the watery layer in our eyes from evaporating. According to Dr. Caroline Blackie, one the nation’s leading authorities on the cause of dry eye conditions, “Warm compresses may provide some temporary relief for the root cause of dry eye (meibomian gland dysfunction) that affects 90% of those diagnosed with Dry eye. However, the only treatment that effectively applies heat to the meibomian glands (glands that produce the protective oils) while also protecting the eye from the heat is LipiFlow from TearScience.” Dr. Blackie adds “it is this scientifically proven approach using LipiFlow’s thermal pulsation over the meibomian glands that properly liquefies the oily obstructions that build up in our glands over time.”
Ophthalmic Inserts – Supplementing The Tear Film
Another more invasive form of treatment is inserts placed in the lower pocket of the lids. These inserts slowly dissolve and mix with the natural tears produced by your eyes thus providing daily lubrication. These can be effective in some cases but must be inserted once or twice a day. Again, inserts are based on the assumption that tear production is the issue and that is not the case with most dry eye sufferers.
Punctual plugs are another form of inserts that your eye doctor can insert to block drainage channels in the eyes with the goal to maintain the watery content in your eyes. According to Dr. Blackie, “This is another form of treatment that can be effective if tear production is the issue but punctual plugs can not stop the evaporation of the watery layer in the eyes if the protective oils are not present in your tear film.”
Eyelid Washes – Treatment or Prevention?
Many think of eyelid washes, which are widely available over the counter, as treatments for dry eye or inflammation that results in our eyelash follicles. Dr. Blackie counters and thinks of eye lid washes as a preventative measure that we should apply regularly from the early years in our life and especially as we get older. “Like brushing our teeth, our lids need regular care as well. Lid scrubs keep our gland ducts orifices clean while also naturally stimulating gland function as a result of the cleansing process,” affirms Dr. Blackie
The Bottom Line about Treatments
Most treatments are based on the assumption that dry eye is a tear based problem when the 90% of dry eye patients most likely suffer from a more common problem known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction referred to as MGD. Regardless of whether Dry Eye or MGD, the condition is chronic, progressive and must be addressed as early and as aggressively possible. Eye care professionals can manage the progression of MGD and restore the eye’s natural oil production with LipiFlow, the only FDA cleared treatment for MGD on the market today. Dr. Blackie asserts that “The biggest myth about common dry eye treatments is most are designed for tear based problems when most dry eye is caused by lack of necessary oils needed to protect our team film.”
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 and learn more about the latest in MGD diagnosis and treatment capabilities.