Dry eye disease (DED) also commonly known as dry eye syndrome is caused by abnormalities in the tear film. The tear film comprises 3 different layers, namely aqueous, lipid and mucin layers. This combination normally keeps the surface of the eyes lubricated, smooth, and clear. Any disruption or imbalance with any of these layers can lead to tear film instability hence causing Dry Eye.
What Causes Dry Eye?
There are two main reasons for dry eye.
Evaporative dry eye
– It is due to the deficiency in the lipid layer of the tear film. It occurs when the glands in the eyelids do not produce enough lipid or oil to protect the tears from evaporating.
Aqueous tear deficiency dry eye
– It is due to tear deficiency. It occurs when there is a lack of watery component production by the lacrimal glands
What Will I Feel If I Am Having Dry Eye?
One of the common symptoms is grittiness or sandy sensation in the eye due to the friction between the eyelids and cornea. Dry eye may also lead to dry spots on the cornea that make blinking feel uncomfortable. Ironically, watery eye is also one of the many symptoms, the eyes send a signal to the brain to produce more tears due to the lack of moisture in which the eyes will then produce too much tears, this is called reflex tearing. However, these reflex tears are of poor quality and do not relieve the dry eye. Some other symptoms include sensitivity to light, burning sensation, blurred vision, and tired eyes as well.
How To Diagnose Dry Eye?
A variety of tests are used to diagnose dry eyes. In Schirmer’s test, a paper strip is inserted into the lower eyelids of both eyes for 5 minutes to evaluate the production of tears. Another test that is commonly used is the Tear Break-up Time (TBUT) test. It is to determine tear film stability and to detect damaged cells on the cornea by instilling fluorescein onto the eye. Meibography, also known as Tear Check Machine is a more specialized test that is sometimes used to assess the oil-producing glands and provide a thorough analysis of dry eye.
How Do I Treat Dry Eye?
Treating dry eye is a long-running battle. Patience and consistency are the keys to achieve maximum results.
A simple 3-step approach is recommended in treating dry eye.
Gels, ointments, and artificial tears to lubricate the eyes and relieve symptoms but they do not necessarily address the root problem.
Pre-moistened lid wipes to remove debris and undergo Exfoliation Treatment (BlephEx) that treat blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids resulting in dandruff-like scales forming on the eyelashes.
Using Intense Regulated Pulsed Light (IRPL) by E>Eye machine whereby light pulses are applied to stimulate the meibomian glands to secrete oil and keep the water component of tears from evaporating.
Can Dry Eye Be Cured Completely？
There is no complete cure for dry eye. However, there are treatments available that could help manage dry eye for long-term relief, to reduce dependency on eye drops as well as the dry eye symptoms.
Furthermore, it also helps provide better biometry measurements for optimal surgery outcomes.