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What Is Dry Eye?


Dry Eye is a long-term chronic disease that causes discomfort and may compromise vision if left untreated. There are two forms of Dry Eye: Evaporative Dry Eye and Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye. The condition occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep the eyes lubricated, healthy and comfortable. The eyes produce tears either at a slow, steady pace or they produce large quantities of tears due to irritation or crying. Excessive tearing from Dry Eye may sound counter intuitive, but it is the eye’s response to discomfort. If the tears do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated and prompts the gland to make more tears.

Blinking produces a film of tears that covers the eye, making its surface smooth and clear. Good vision is not possible without this tear film. The tear film consists of three layers:

  • Lipid (oil) layer - lubricates and prevents evaporation
  • Aqueous (water) layer -nourishes and protects the cornea
  • Mucin layer - adheres to the eye

Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye occurs when the lacrimal glands do not create a sufficient amount of aqueous (water) to keep the eyes moist. Traditional treatments such as topical eye drops may help alleviate symptoms from this form of Dry Eye.

Evaporative Dry Eye is caused by blockage in the Meibomian glands that create the lipid (oil) layer of the tear film and are located in the eyelids. This condition of obstructed glands is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). When the glands aren’t working properly, they do not produce enough tear film oil and the tears, which lubricate and keep the eyes comfortable, evaporate too quickly. An insufficient oil layer can cause tears to evaporate four to six times faster. Although there are many treatment options available, traditional methods have proven ineffective for some. Fortunately, Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center now offers LipiFlow®, the most revolutionary Dry Eye treatment available. This amazing breakthrough technology helps unblock the glands, improving oil secretions and providing symptom relief.

What causes Evaporative Dry Eye?

  • Age, contact lens use and hygiene, cosmetic use, and illnesses, particularly diabetes, may cause or exacerbate Evaporative Dry Eye.
  • Hormonal changes in women during menopause, particularly decreasing levels of estrogen, can cause thickening of the oils secreted by the Meibomian glands, which in turn can result in blockages.
  • Decreased estrogen levels may enhance conditions under which staphylococcal bacteria can proliferate in Meibomian glands. This results in a decreased oil secretion rate.

Who’s affected?

Over 100 million people worldwide suffer from Dry Eye disease. Men and women at any age can be affected; however, Dry Eye increases with age and often affects women after menopause.

What are the symptoms?

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Sensation of something in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light

If left untreated, Dry Eye can result in visual deterioration.

Eye Design and Dr. Burns are proud to be the first Optometry practice in Prince George's County to offer patients a new, revolutionary treatment for Dry Eyes. LipiFlow is an exciting breakthrough technology that treats the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye. It provides up to 12 months of symptom relief and takes less than 15 minutes to perform in our office.

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