We have heard about Dry Eye Disease more frequently in the past several years, and the increase of information has coincided with the development of a variety of treatment options. There is no denying that there are effective treatments and medications available today to soothe chronically irritated eyes. The problem is, many of them, both over-the-counter and prescription, are focused on the correction of tear deficiencies. To treat tears can be a frustrating endeavor when the root problem is located in the Meibomian glands of the eyes.
What are Meibomian Glands?
Each eye has between 25 and 40 Meibomian glands in the upper lid alone. The lower lid can also have as many as 30 of these glands, which were first discovered back in the 1600s. Meibomian glands’ function is to produce the oil that is needed on the ocular surface. Oil makes up a vital aspect of tears; it keeps the water in tears from evaporating prematurely.
For the eyes to function properly, a stabilized tear film is needed. This means there needs to be adequate water to mucin to lipids, or oil. The lipid layer produced by the Meibomian glands lies on top of the water on the eye, preventing irritation and protecting the eyes’ surface from damage.
Dry Eye or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
In clinical studies, researchers have found that more than 80% of patients evaluated for dry eye have coinciding symptoms of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). This makes sense due to the integral value of oil in the tear film. The observation of the similarities between temporary dry eyes and chronic dry eyes associated with MGD allows us to treat the underlying condition for the prompt and long-term relief of symptoms.
Treating blocked Meibomian glands is an excellent way to restore stabilization to the tear film, and a great way to restore comfort to your eyes. Dr. Murrell treats MGD using the Lipiflow and EyeXpress techniques. Each similarly disrupts the debris that is blocking oil production in a gentle manner. Treatments take approximately 15 minutes and are described as feeling like slight pressure and heat. The combined use of each modality can achieve optimal results starting with just one treatment.