Proper evaluation by a dry eye specialist in necessary to determine if your dry eye is aqueous deficient dry eye, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (lack of the lipid layer on the eye, which prevents evaporation of the tears), or a combination of the two.
Historically, all dry eye was treated as if it were Aqueous Deficient. Artificial tears may have been prescribed, and if the patient was still having symptoms, then they were told to simply increase the use of tears. If you are using the drops four times a day and still feeling dry, then increase to eight times daily. If that isn’t enough, increase to every 30 min.
Research suggests that up to 85% of people have a Meibomain Gland component to their dry eye. That means that roughly only 15% of people with dry eye will find relief simply using artificial tears.
Meibomian Gland Dystunction, if found by your dry eye specialist, needs to be addressed. Blocked meibomain glands results in decreased lipid (oil) expressed by the lids. This lack of oil results in a tear film that quickly evaporates, leaving the eye feeling dry, or a contact lens drying out quickly.
Multiple treatment options exist for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Working with a dry eye specialist ensures that the best treatment plan can be made for your own dry eye symptoms.
Dr. Matthew Ward, OD
Valley Eye Clinic
West Des Moines, IA