What Is Dry Eye?
The Tear Film is made of a combination of 2 tear water producing glands and 1 tear oil producing gland located in the covering of the eye and in the eyelids. A dry eye most often is due to decreased of water and or tear oil. The result is a condition called dry eye.
How Do Tears Work?
Tears keep the ocular surface lubricated. They do so with three key ingredients: oil, water, and mucus. The oil layer is the outermost layer of the tear film. This layer keeps tears from evaporating too quickly.The oil in tears is produced by the meibomian glands. Water makes up the middle layer of the tear film. It is the most substantial layer, responsible for cleansing the eye and washing away particles that do not belong. The water in tears comes from the lacrimal glands that are located in the eyelid. The innermost layer of the tear film is made of mucus, which helps water and oil stick to the ocular surface. This part of the tear film is made in the conjunctiva.
The layers of tears are produced by the appropriate glands in vital proportions to achieve adequate moisture. When we blink, the tear film is spread across the eye and each gland involved in tear production is stimulated.
Why Does Tear Quality Matter
Tears need to have all three layers to perform their function on the eyes. Without the right balance between oil, water, and mucus, the eyes can become irritated and susceptible to infection.
Dry Eye Symptoms
For example, some symptoms of dry eye can include:
- Stinging or burning eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Excessive eye irritation in windy or smoky conditions
- Scratchiness on the eyes
- Discomfort wearing contact lenses
What Causes Dry Eye?
Generally speaking, dry eye can result from various problems. As we age, everyone’s tear production drops. This is especially true of women after menopause. Often, tear quality is diminished when the meibomian gland is blocked because tears evaporate too quickly from the eye without the protection of the outer oil layer. A variety of medications can also reduce tear production: antihistamines, diuretics, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, nerve medications, and pain relievers.
Dry eye really comes down to one of these (or a combination of) glands located around both eyes:
- Lack of tear water
- Lack of/or Dysfunctional meibomian oil glands (tear oil)
- Both lack of tear water and tear oil
Am I a Candidate for Dry Eye Treatment?
If your experience the symptoms of dry eyes on an ongoing basis or are not helped by over-the-counter artificial tears, you can benefit from a consultation with an experienced ophthalmologist to explore how your eyes are making and retaining tears. Many people are great candidates for dry eye treatment in our Amarillo office.
Treatments That Don’t Work
Dr. Murrell sees many patients who are at wit’s end with their dry eye. They’ve tried artificial tears and other treatments intended to increase the tears’ watery layer. They may even have had plugs placed in the punctum in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage into the nose.
But Dr. Murrell often finds that two components of dry eye are overlooked — oil dysfunction and tear film inflammation. The oil component becomes compromised when the Meibomian glands become dysfunctional.
Lipiflow and EyeXpress
Dr. Murrell is the only M.D. in the United States to use two state-of-the-art treatments that are FDA approved to manage severe dry eye due to oil dysfunction: Lipiflow and EyeXpress. Both systems heat the dysfunctional Meibomian oil glands, but in different manners. EyeXpress heats the oil glands outside the upper and lower eyelids, freeing the glands and lubricating the eye over a series of usually four treatments.
Using one or both of these two methods synergistically, he can give the significantly improved comfort to patients suffering from this painful condition. By taking photos and videos of your eye, Dr. Murrell can accurately diagnose dry eye and can easily show that diagnosis to his patients. Dr. Murrell then works together with the patient to create a successful treatment plan that can be performed totally or partially in office.
Dr. Murrell completed his ophthalmology residency at Texas Tech University, one of the premier Dry Eye research centers in the United States. Researchers at Texas Tech developed one of the first artificial tear drops to treat Dry Eye.
What Is Lipflow?
LipiFlow is an FDA-cleared medical device for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). The LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System has a single-use Activator through which controlled thermal energy is applied to the inner eyelids. It is called Thermal Pulsation System because, as heat is being applied to the Meibomian glands, so is gentle, intermittent pressure. In combination, heat and pressure release lipids that have become trapped in the Meibomian glands. The unblocked glands that then resume the natural flow of lipids into the tear film.
LipiFlow is a short, painless procedure that has been developed through over a decade of dedicated research and clinical testing. Featured structures and sensors protect integral parts of the eye including the cornea.
What Is Eye Express?
EyeXpress is also an FDA-cleared therapeutic device that acts on the Meibomian glands to improve the tear film. This device features a goggle system through which dual heat therapy affects the upper and lower eyelids simultaneously. The consistent, gentle heat administered during the short, painless treatment aids in Meibomian gland expression, unblocking the glands and facilitating optimal tear production.
Dry Eye Patient Testimonial
“I am very, very grateful that I heeded Dr. Dixion’s suggestion that I see Dr. Murrell for my dry eyes, and so grateful to Dr. Murrell for the excellent diagnosis and treatment that I have received under his care.” – Anonymous
Dry Eye Treatment Results
Many people who undergo conservative dry eye treatment such as LipiFlow or EyeXpress enjoy results from just one session. The improvement achieved from treatment may occur gradually over several weeks after the in-office procedure. According to follow-up studies, results can last up to two years.
Are There Any Risks With Dry Eye Treatment
Risks to thermal conducted dry eye treatment are low and include irritation to the eyelid or ocular surface. Symptoms such as a foreign body sensation, stinging, or burning are also risks. The built-in features of both LipiFlow and EyeXpress devices minimize the risk of adverse reaction to dry eye treatment.
Maintaining Healthy Eyes After Treatment.
For eyes to maintain adequate lubrication, they need only a few things.
- Adequate hydration: drink the recommended amount of water each day.
- Adequate nourishment: eat a well-balanced diet and avoid smoking and alcohol, both of which can lead to dry eyes.
- Adequate protection: wear sunglasses and hats when outdoors.
- Adequate rest: take breaks from your computer and other screens and blink frequently when reading. Close your eyes for a few moments of rest several times a day.
Preventing Dry Eye
There are some ways dry-eye symptoms can be prevented. Small lifestyle adjustments such as wearing protective glasses on windy days or increasing breaks when reading or doing other vision-intensive tasks can help decrease the recurrence of symptoms.