Dry Eye Types

Dry Eye Disease is one of the most common eye problems, affecting people of all ages in all areas of the world. It affects millions of people in the U. S. alone and is particularly common in those over the age of 50, especially women. Dry Eye Disease has the potential to cause significant pain, discomfort, blurred vision, and permanent damage to the eye. It is a chronic and progressive disorder requiring proper evaluation and treatment.

Dry eye results from changes to the normal tear film that bathes the front surface of the eye. This film has 3 basic layers:
  • Lipid (oil) layer – the outermost layer of the tears. This is a thin layer of oil, secreted by the Meibomian glands, located in the eyelids. This oil serves to slow evaporation of tear, thus stabilizing the tear film. A deficiency of oil quality or quantity results from a condition called Meibomian gland dysfunction.
  • Aqueous (water) layer – the middle, and thickest layer of the tears. This layer contains oxygen, nutrients, and various immune components, and is produced by the main and accessory lacrimal glands.
  • Mucin layer – the innermost layer of the tear film. Mucin coats the eye’s surface, allowing the tears to spread evenly across the surface. It is secreted by goblet cells on the surface of the eye and can be affected by disorders such as chemical burns, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and nutritional deficiencies.

Research has shown that there are two basic types of dry eye disease:
  1. Aqueous-deficient dry eye – the tear-producing glands do not produce enough tears.
  2. Evaporative dry eye – poor quality tear oil layer results in unusually-rapid tear evaporation.

Many people have a combination of both types and studies have suggested that perhaps 60-70% of dry eye patients have at least some degree of evaporative dry eye. Regardless of the type, the symptoms are similar and well-known to those who suffer from this disorder-dryness, irritation, light sensitivity, a feeling of sand and or foreign matter in the eyes, blurred or fluctuating vision, especially with reading or computer work, and significant limitations to their lifestyles and activities.

Treatment of dry eye disease has traditionally involved the use of various artificial tear drops and ointments. While these can help supplement your natural tears, they do not effectively treat the underlying cause of the disorder. In some cases, punctual occlusion, which closes off the tear drainage system, may help to improve tear volume and reduce symptoms.

Recently, new technology has become available to effectively treat Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), the root cause of evaporative dry eye. Community Eye Center is pleased to offer the FDA-approved Lipiflow® treatment for MGD. This novel thermal pulsation technology acts to help improve, or even normalize Meibomian gland oil production, unblocking plugged oil glands with a gentle 12-minute in-office treatment.

Learn more about dry eye testing and treatment here, or…

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