Dry Eye Treatment
Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears are spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts, in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain in the back of the nose.
Dry eyes can result from an improper balance of tear production and drainage.
The most common form of dry eyes is due to an inadequate amount of the water layer of tears. This condition, called keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is also referred to as dry eye syndrome.
People with dry eyes may experience symptoms of irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in their eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.
Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health, including the use of LipiFlow®.
Pepose Vision is a leader in the diagnosis and treatment of dry eye syndrome.
We are a TearLab Accredited Dry Eye Center.
Millions suffer from Dry Eye, and yet the vast majority are not receiving the care they need.
At our Accredited Dry Eye Center, you will be cared for by certified specialists in tear testing. We have the most advanced technology to diagnose and manage this irritating condition.
How do I know if I have dry eyes?
Dry eye syndrome usually affects both eyes, but one eye may be affected more. Common symptoms and signs of dry eye syndrome include:
- Eye discomfort, such as stinging, burning or a scratchy sensation
- Eye redness and/or eyelid redness
- Blurry vision or fluctuating vision
- Eye fatigue after reading for a period of time
- Light sensitivity, including glare or starbursts around lights
- Irritation from smoke or wind blowing into the eyes
- Waking up with stringy material in the corner of the eyes
- Uncomfortable contact lenses, especially towards end of day
- Eye infections, including from contact lens wear
- Scarring of the cornea (front clear window of the eye) in advanced cases
When dry eye symptoms affect vision or eye comfort, a detailed examination by your eye doctor can lead to treatment to improve or control these symptoms.
We always provide our patients with compassionate and customized care.
Pepose Vision Institute is one of the few centers in the United States to have the new LipiView diagnostic system. This allows the doctor to evaluate and accurately measure the thickness of the outer oily lipid layer of the tears, as well as how completely the patient blinks. If the layer is deficient, the patient can then undergo a 12 minute, office procedure called LipiFlow.
Understanding Dry Eye Syndrome
According to the latest studies, more than 64% of patients who suffer from chronic dry eye have a lipid deficiency caused by a blockage of the meibomian glands. This condition is also often called evaporative dry eye. The meibomian glands are located on the rims of the eyelids. Their primary function is to supply meibum, an oily substance that prevents the evaporation of the eye’s tear film, which is comprised of three layers: the lipid layer, the aqueous layer and the mucin layer.
How Does LipiFlow Work?
A device is inserted around the lids after placing numbing drops. The device then heats up and massages the oil-producing glands. The heat liquefies the waxy oils that clog the openings of the gland and the pulsating massage evacuates the glands so they can function normally. The treatment has been shown to be effective and generally keeps the signs and symptoms under control for around 12 months, when the treatment can be repeated. This new ground-breaking diagnostic test and innovative treatment may provide relief for many dry eye sufferers who have not responded to conventional therapy with artificial tears, drops, and warm compresses.
The first step in treating chronic dry eye is to determine if the patient is suffering from evaporative dry eye. Patients will undergo a series of dry eye tests, including the LipiView and TearLab systems. If the patient is found to be lipid deficient, he or she may be a candidate for the LipiFlow treatment.
The LipiFlow treatment begins with the administration of anesthetic eye drops for maximum patient comfort. A LipiFlow eyepiece is then carefully placed, and the patient is asked to close his/her eye around the piece. Next, the device is activated to deliver gentle pressure and warmth to the eyelids, thereby melting away the blockages within the glands. During the next 12 minutes, the LipiFlow device delivers precise amounts of pressure and pre-programmed degrees of temperature to facilitate an optimal treatment outcome. The procedure is well-tolerated, and most patients only feel gentle pressure without pain.
In 84% of patients, gland secretions improve within four weeks. Patients who have had this chronic disease for more than a year report it can take 4-5 months to notice a difference.
For Severe Cases of Dry Eye – Prokera®
Pepose Vision Institute is a Dry Eye Center of Excellence, offering the latest and most advanced therapeutic options to treat dry eye. For severe dry eyes, the latest and best treatment is Prokera.
For severe cases of dry eye, prescription treatment along with eye drops are needed to help relieve symptoms. Severe dry eye not only makes such common tasks as reading, watching tv, working on computers and driving difficult and/or tiring, it can also lead to eye infection and corneal scarring.
Prokera is a new treatment option for severe dry eye. It is a corneal healing lens, a natural option that helps return the surface of the eye to a normal healthy state. Clinical studies show that Prokera helps sooth pain, heal the eye and improve vision.
How Does Prokera Work?
Prokera is inserted and removed by a Pepose Vision doctor in our office in a manner similar to contacts. Once removed, Prokera renews the surface of the eye so you can see more clearly while feeling your best. In a clinical survey, 93% of patients that used Prokera for dry eye said they felt better after treatment.
IN THE US ALONE, 2.7 MILLION PEOPLE SUFFER FROM SEVERE DRY EYE SYNDROME.
How do you test for dry eyes?
Pepose Vision utilized a variety of advanced techniques to measure the volume and quality of your tears.
Schirmer test. A filter strip with millimeter marking is placed on the lower eyelid. Tears flow onto this blotting paper for 5 minutes, measuring the amount of tears asorbed during this interval. The normal range is from 10 – 20 mm in 5 minutes.
Tear Osmolarity. The higher the amount of water (aqueous) in the tears, the lower the salt concentration.
- The TearLab Osolarity System collects a tiny sample of tears onthe lower eyelid and measures how easily an electrical current is able to transmit through the tears. If the current passes slowly (high impedance), there is less salt concentration and lots of water. Tear Osmolarity readings higher than 305 are considered indicative of DES. The higher the Tear Osmolarity reading, the more severe the DES. Hence, tear osmolarity can be used to objectively monitor for the effectiveness of treatment.Pepose Vision Institute is a certified TearLab clinical laboratory.
Lipiview. Uses a special camera to capture 14 million pixels of tear film images. Interferometry is used to quantify the amount of oil in the tear film. The thicker and more uniform the coating of oil, the harder it is for tears to evaporate too quickly. The Lipiview also video records the quality of blinking to determine if blinking is full and frequent enough to adequately spread the tears across the entire surface of the eye.
Automated Tear Breakup Time using the Optical Quality Assessment Tool (OQAS). The OQAS collects laser light reflecting off of the back of the eye and through all of the structures of the eye into a camera. The OQAS quantifies how focused the exiting beam of laser light is. If all of the structures of the eye are normal, the reflected laser light will be in a sharp focus. This is usually the case immediately after a blink. The exiting laser light will scatter more as the surface of the eye becomes less uniform, just like light passing through a streaky winshield. The OQAS can quantify how much light distortion is introduced by not blinking and allowing the tear film to dissipate or evaporate.
OQAS measurements as a patients hold eye open for 15 seconds. In this case of DES, there is more scattering and less focusing of the laser light as the tear film evaporates.
Dye Test. Various liquid dye eye drops can be applied to the surface of the eye. Areas that have a good coating of tears will dilute the dye. The dye will accumulate in drier regions because the tears are not adequate to rinse away the dye.
Fluorescein (green) dry accumulates on the inferior portion of the eye as there are insufficient tears to wash away the dye.
How do you treat dry eyes?
For most people with mild dry eyes symptoms, treatment involves over-the-counter eye drops and other simple remedies, such as wearing sunglasses when outside or drinking more water. Keeping the eyelid area clean and opening pores of tear glands in the eyelid are important for every dry eye patient. This can be done by cleansing the eyelash region (lid scrub) and applying heat and moisture (hot compress). If your dry eyes symptoms are persistent and more serious, there are a number of medical and surgical treatment options that can be of benefit.
Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes
Your doctor will work to determine what’s causing your dry eyes. In some cases these situations can be reversed. For instance, if a medication is causing your dry eyes, your doctor may recommend a different medication that doesn’t cause that side effect. If your symptoms are worse with computer work, then taking breaks during the work day may be helpful. If you have an eyelid condition, such as a condition that makes it difficult to close your eye completely when you blink, your doctor may refer you to an eye surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery of the eyelids. If your signs and symptoms suggest an autoimmune condition, such as rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist for evaluation.
If you experience dry eyes, pay attention to the situations that are most likely to cause your symptoms. Then find ways to avoid those situations in order to prevent your dry eyes symptoms. For instance:
- Avoid air blowing in your eyes. Don’t direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans toward your eyes.
- Wear glasses on windy days and goggles while swimming. The wraparound style of glasses may help reduce the effects of the wind. Goggles protect your eyes from chemicals in pool water that can dry your eyes.
- Add moisture to the air. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.
- Consider eyeglass shields to protect your eyes. Safety shields can be added to the tops and sides of eyeglasses to block wind and dry air from getting to your eyes. Ask about shields where you buy your eyeglasses.
- Take eye breaks during long tasks. If you’re reading or doing another task that requires visual concentration, take periodic eye breaks. Close your eyes for a few minutes. Or blink repeatedly for a few seconds to help spread your tears evenly over your eye.
- Position your computer screen below eye level. If your computer screen is above eye level, you’ll open your eyes wider to view the screen. Position your computer screen below eye level. This may help slow the evaporation of your tears between eye blinks.
- Stop smoking and avoid smoke. Ask your doctor for help devising a quit-smoking strategy that’s most likely to work for you.
- Over-the-counter tear drops. There are many brands that are available at local pharmacies and grocery stores for the treatment of DES. Your doctor can review which brands may be more effective for you. Generally, preservative-free eye drops, in twist-off vials, are better tolerated if topical lubricants are needed frequently. Depending on symptoms, drops may need to be used more frequently. Some people need to put drops in every hour, and some need eyedrops only once a day.
- Over-the-counter gels and ointments. These are thicker lubricants that come in a tube, mainly to be applied right before going to sleep. They moisturize the eyes overnight and may be helpful for someone waking up with eye discomfort.
- Prescription lubricants. There are some prescription lubricants that may be more effective than over-the-counter lubricants.
- Serum Tears and Platelet-enriched Plasma. For severe cases of DES unresponsive to artificial tears or medications, a patient’s own blood can be drawn to be used as a natural eye drop. A centrifuge, under sterile technique, is used to separate the red and white blood cells from the fluid in the blood. The fluid, or serum, is extracted and mixed with saline to create a 20% Serum tear solution. Serum contains proteins, oils, growth factors, anti-inflammatory agents, and other components that can significantly improve the health of the ocular surface.
For people with eyelid inflammation (blepharitis) and other conditions that block the flow of oil to the eye, regular eyelid washing may help. Your doctor may recommend that you do this daily, even when you do not have dry eyes symptoms. Stopping this daily routine may cause your dry eyes to return.
- Hot Washcloth. Wet a clean cloth with hot water. Hold the cloth over your eyes for five minutes. Re-wet the cloth with hot water when it cools. Gently rub the washcloth over your eyelids to loosen any debris. While this can be helpful and soothing, it is difficult to maintain an adequate amount of heat for a sufficient amount of time. Eye heating gels and pads are also commercially available.
- Mild Soap Cleanser to Eyelid. Baby shampoo or other lid cleansers may be recommended by your doctor. Put the soap on your clean fingertips and gently massage your closed eyes near the base of your eyelashes. Rinse the soap completely away. Pre-moistened lid cleansing pads are also commercially available.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements
Some preliminary research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids could help relieve dry eyes symptoms. These fatty acids, found in fish and vegetable oils, are thought to reduce inflammation in the body, including in the eyes and eyelids. Omega-3 fatty acids are available in foods (salmon, tuna, flaxseed, walnuts) and in supplements.
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics can decrease the amount of bacteria on the surface of the eye, can open up the pores of tear glands, and can help reduce eye inflammation. These are available in drop, ointment, and pill forms.
- Anti-inflammatory Agents. These can be used to control eye irritation and inflammation from chronic DES. Steroid and non-steroidal drops can be used to treat acute symptoms of redness and burning. Topical cyclosporine (Restasis) can be used on a long-term basis, including in patients with autoimmune conditions or after LASIK, to promote increased tear production by glands on the surface of the eye.
- Lacrisert. For patients with severe dry eyes, a tiny insert (hydroxypropyl cellulose) the size of a grain of rice can be placed between your lower eyelid and the eyeball. The insert dissolves during the day, slowly releasing a lubricant onto the surface of the eye.
Office Treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome
- Closure of the Tear Drain: Punctal Plugs. Normally tears drain through a canal in the inner corner of each eyelid into the sinuses and nose. This is why tears don’t normally spill down the cheek. Tiny silicone plugs or surgical cautery can be used to block the tear drain, allowing the tears to remain in contact with the eyes longer. Plug insertion is an easy, reversible procedure that can be performed in the examination room and is usually covered by medical insurance.
- Bandage Contact Lens. If the eye is too dry, a soft, clear bandage contact lens can be applied to protect the surface of the eye. Similarly, eye goggles can be worn at night time.
- Lipiflow. This unique 15 minute in-office treatment applies heat to the inner surface of the eyelid while messaging the outer surface of the lid in order to open up the blockedoil glands. The flow of oil prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly.
- Eyelid Surgery. In cases of poor eyelid blinking or closure, repositioning of the eyelid surgically may be recommended.
The doctors and staff at Pepose Vision Institute have been involved in a number of FDA studies of Dry Eye diagnosis devices and treatment products. As part of these studies, our doctors and staff have become expert in the application of a number of innovative diagnostic tests to determine the main causes of Dry Eyes in our patients and to customize a treatment strategy based upon our findings. For further information about your diagnostic and treatment options and to schedule a Dry Eye Consultation, please contact our scheduling staff at (636) 728-0111.
Did you know Pepose Vision is also an advanced research facility?
Why choose Pepose Vision for your dry eye treatment?
The doctors at Pepose Vision Institute are experts at diagnosing and treating dry eye syndrome.
In addition to our years of experience, we have also been involved in a number of FDA studies of Dry Eye diagnosis devices and treatment products. As part of these studies, our doctors and staff have become expert in the application of a number of innovative diagnostic tests to
determine the main causes of Dry Eyes in our patients and to customize a treatment strategy based upon our findings.
We recommend that the best way to ensure a successful outcome is to choose a highly experienced doctor who is involved in developing state-of-the-art treatments for dry eye syndrome.
What’s your next step?
If you are suffering from one or more of the symptoms of dry eyes, or you have any other vision issue, please come see us. Our experienced doctors will use advanced diagnostics to determine exactly how to best help you see your very best, patiently answer your questions and carefully explain all your options.