Dry eye syndrome (DES) is a chronic condition that develops when your eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep the eye’s surface lubricated resulting in multiple symptoms that range from person to person. This can be due to a reduction in tear production or increased tear evaporation from a lack of lipid in the tears that stem from oil glands in the eyelids. The effects can range from minor dryness and discomfort to pain, blurred vision and frequent infections.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease
Symptoms of dry eye syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the condition but can include:
- Dry, itchy eyes
- Burning or stinging
- Watery eyes
- Blurred vision
- Foreign body sensation
The main function of tears is to maintain the health of the cornea of your eye by washing away foreign matter and ensuring that the surface of your eye remains moist, smooth and clear. Tears also rinse away dust particles from your eyes and contain enzymes that protect your eyes from bacteria that can cause infections. Dry eyes is a condition that develops when the amount of tears produced is not sufficient to maintain the moisture balance in your eye. This can result in that scratchy sensation, a continuous feeling of dryness, stinging and a sensation of a foreign body in your eye. Ironically in an effort to fight off the condition, dry eyes can cause you to produce excessive tears, which is why some people experience watery eyes.
Causes of Dry Eye Disease
Dry eyes can occur naturally as a result of aging or hormonal changes, typically in women who are pregnant, taking oral contraceptives or going through menopause. In fact, women over 50 have a 50% greater risk of dry eye disease than men do of the same age. It can also result from taking certain medications that reduce tear production such as antihistamines, blood pressure medications and antidepressants. Environmental factors can also play a role in drying out the eyes and DED is common in areas where the climate is dry, dusty and windy. Home air conditioners or heating systems and excessive time spent staring at a computer or television screen can also dry out eyes and exacerbate symptoms due to the lack of blinking while staring at our screens.
Individuals that suffer from certain medical conditions such as diabetes, blepharitis, lupus, arthritis and thyroid problems are more vulnerable to developing DED. Other causes can be due to eye surgery including LASIK, certain conditions in which the eyelids don’t close properly or extended contact lens use.
Diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease
For patients experiencing dry eye, the doctors at Mountain Vista EyeCare will complete an ocular surface disease evaluation. The evaluation will consist of several tests and scans which will allow the doctors to understand what the root cause of your dryness is. Based on the evaluation, the doctors will prescribe a personalized treatment plan for you
Treatment for Dry Eyes
Each patient’s treatment is personalized based on their specific needs and lifestyle. At Mountain Vista EyeCare, we offer a variety of treatments, including breakthrough technology such as the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System | TearScience. Learn how LipiFlow’s breakthrough technology uses heat and pressure to improve symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), the leading cause of dry eye.
More about Lipiflow
Lipiflow is the only FDA approved procedure that has been shown to help moderate to severe dry eye patients achieve long term relief from their symptoms. It is a 12 minute procedure that is done in our offices. A thermal pulsator is placed along the upper and lower lid of each eye. This instrument directs heat to the oil producing glands of the lids and gently massages the oil glands to allow the dried oil to be expressed. In the majority of cases, significant clinical relief is achieved that last from nine to in excess of thirty-six months. However in order to appropriately screen those patients with the greatest opportunity of achieving these results, a comprehensive dry eye evaluation is done in our office. The oil glands are evaluated. The tear osmolality is determined. The lids and cornea are examined for disease that may contribute to the underlying dry eye disease. An instrument called a tear layer interferometer, or LipiView, is used to determine the frequency and completeness of the patient’s blink as well as the depth of the tear oil level. If it is determined that you are a candidate the procedure is scheduled.
Costs/Financing Cost Associated with LipiFlow:
- The doctor’s evaluation is typically paid by insurance. What you pay out of pocket is dependent on your insurance, your deductible and plan co-pay.
- The LipiView test which measures the extent of your tear lipid layer, an important component of determining your candidacy, is not paid by insurance. This is an out of pocket expense of $50.
The Procedure: LipiFlow
- The procedure is not paid for by insurance. It is an out of pocket expense of $475/eye. We can provide patients with interest free financing for up to two years through CareCredit. We also accept all major credit cards.
- One post operative evaluation included with procedure (Usually 8 weeks after procedure).