Dry Eye Clinic
Alberta is well known for it’s dry climate and unfortunately, this is a major cause of dry eye in many Albertans. If you are suffering from dry eyes, we can help! Book a dry eye consult today!
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a progressive condition in which a person either does not have enough tears or has tears with an imbalanced chemical composition. If dry eye is not treated, dry eye will progress and could result in damage to your cornea, increased eye infections, changes to your vision, as well as a decreased quality of life.
The tears in your eye are extremely important for clarity of vision, comfort of your eyes and also for overall eye health. There should always be a thin film of tears protecting your eye called the tear film. If there is not enough tears to create this film or if it constantly evaporates, you will notice the common symptoms of dry eye. These symptoms include:
- eyes feeling dry and irritated
- red, sore eyes
- a burning sensation
- excessive tearing/watery eyes
- feeling like there is something in your eye when there is not
- occasional sudden sharp pain in the eye
- fluctuating blurry vision
- crusty eyes
- a gritty feeling
- inability to wear contact lenses for extended periods of time
- difficulty working on the computer for extended periods of time
One or more of these symptoms could mean that you are suffering from dry eye!
How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?
There are 2 general catergorizations of dry eye:
- Inadequate production of tears (aqueous deficient dry eye): Typically tear production will decrease with age. Tear production will also be decreased in various medical conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, and by taking certain medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants. A lack of tears will cause symptoms of dry eye to develop.
- Poor quality of tears (evaporative dry eye): There are 3 layers that make up your tear film: oil, water and mucus. If there is an imbalance in these layers then tear function is impacted. Most important to protecting the tears from evaporating is the outer oily layer. Oil glands in the eyelid called meibomian glands produce this oil. The most common cause of dry eye is when these oil glands become blocked or clogged leaving the tears without protection against evaporation. This is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. When the tears evaporate, the body sometimes will try to compensate for the loss of tears and overproduce tears, which causes uncontrollable tearing and watering. However, if the oil glands are still blocked then this new set of tears will also evaporate resulting in an endless cycle of dryness.
Dry eye and the type of dry eye you have can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye exam or a dry eye consultation! We will go through your symptoms, general health problems, medications and environmental factors that may be contributing to dry eye. With a microcope, we will assess your eyelids, front of your eye and tears for any abnormalities, sometimes using special dyes to assess tear flow, tear evaporation and to highlight any damage to the cornea from dryness.
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Dry Eye Treatment
Dry eye is a complex disease and requires personalized treatment plans for the best results. Most often, treatment is beyond simple artificial tears. At opt. clinic, we have many new, exciting options for dry eye treatment!
Forma is an amazing new treatment option that takes advantage of radiofrequency technology to treat dry eye! Originally used in dermatology to tighten skin, this is also known as a non-surgical lid lift. Not only does it safely and effectively treat dry eyes, but it also helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles and helps treat “baggy eyes”. Forma works by applying radio waves to the skin, which penetrate deeply and warms the tissue, feeling like a warm face massage. This helps to soften the thickened oils in the meibomian glands, allowing us to manually express them and help restore their natural fuction. This results in an improvement in dry eye, while also tightening skin and reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles!
Lumecca is another new treatment option that utilizes Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology. The purpose of IPL is to treat inflammation, which is the underlying cause of dry eye. IPL is also a technology originally used in dermatology. IPL was noted by dermatologists to improve dry eye symptoms and has now been adapted for optometry practices! When patients have rosacea or dilated blood vessels (telangiectasia), they can be targeted with IPL to stop the cycle of inflammation that causes dry eye! Depending on your type of dry eye, treatment can include both Forma and Lumecca.
Meibomian gland expression
Follow either Forma, Lumecca or hot compresses, meibomian gland expression will be performed. This means we will unblock the oil glands in your eyelids so that they can begin producing a healthy oil layer for your tears. This will help prevent evaporation of your tears to improve your dry eye. Watch the video below by Dr. Wong to find out more about meibomian gland expression and evaporative dry eye.
Milder forms of dry eye can be treated with warming eye masks, lid cleansing wipes, artificial tears and also nutritional supplements.