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Dry Eye Syndrome

Your Relief is Our Focus

 

We are proud to introduce our new Dry Eye Center!  Here you will find advanced diagnostic instrumentation, new treatments and procedures, and Dr. Potter’s commitment to finding effective solutions for dry eye relief!  Call to schedule a Dry Eye consultation today!

What is Dry Eye?

Healthy tears are required for good vision, and also to prevent eye irritation.  Our tears form a protective layer across the surface of the eyes, blocking and flushing out wind, dust, bacteria, allergens, and other irritants.

This “tear film” forms a smooth, clear layer for light to enter the eye with each blink.  When the tear film is of poor quality or is too thin,  the eyes can become blurry and irritated.  There are many types of dry eye depending on what part of the tear film is deficient or dysfunctional.

What Causes Dry Eye?

There are many causes, and most patients have more than one:

  • Older age
  • Dry Environments
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Inflammatory/auto-immune disease
  • Exposure to smoke, wind, or dirt
  • Extensive digital screen/computer use
  • Contact lens wear
  • Eye surgeries
  • Eyelid malformations
  • Systemic medications

What is Tear Film Dysfunction?

Tears have many different components but can be broken down into 3 main layers.  Each layer has unique properties and potential problems.  It is important to treat both the quality of the tears as well as the quantity.

  1. The mucus layer is produced by surface cells and helps tears “stick” to the eye.
  2. The watery (or aqueous) layer makes up most of the volume of the tears, and is used for flushing, crying, and for overall hydration.  It has many other components like salts, proteins, antibodies, amino acids and electrolytes.
  3. The lipid or oil layer is the outer, protective layer that coats and prevents the tears from evaporating.  This oil is produced by the Meibomian glands, which run vertically through the eyelids.  These glands are vulnerable to blockage from debris, bacteria, allergens, and other irritants.  This can lead to oil thickening, bacterial growth, inflammation and gland destruction.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Stinging and burning
  • Scratchy or gritty
  • Feels like something is in the eye
  • Sticky or strands of mucus
  • Redness and irritation
  • Contact lens discomfort
  • Excess (reflex) tearing
  • Blurry or fluctuating vision
  • Eye strain and focusing problems

How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

We use both traditional methods and new technology to differentiate your type and level of dry eye.  Some tests that may be used include:

  • Careful history of symptoms and attempted treatments
  • Examination of eye and lid structures and of tear film volume and flow
  • Meibography (imaging of the oil glands and consistency)
  • Tear Osmolarity (measure of tear saltiness)
  • Schirmer Test (measure of tear production)
  • Staining of the eye surface (using non-toxic dyes to see where damage is the worst)

How is Dry Eye Treated?

Dr. Potter will work with you to design a treatment regimen that is tailored to your specific symptoms and findings.  In general, treatment is centered on 4 main principles:

  1. Clean:  Remove debris, dead cells, and bacterial biofilms from the eyelids, lashes, and glands.
  2. Unblock:  Unclog oil-producing glands and ensure proper oil consistency and flow.
  3. Moisturize:  Supplement tear volume and reduce outflow/evaporation of existing tears.
  4. Reduce Inflammation:  Break inflammatory cycles to allow for tissue healing and rejuvenation.