Understanding Ocular Surface Disease
Understanding Ocular Surface Disease (dry eye) begins with understanding the source. There are three main causes of ocular surface symptoms that include meibomian gland dysfunction, ocular allergies, and autoimmune disease. Significant research shows that these dysfunctions all share a similar origin. Each of these afflictions increases inflammatory agents in the body while weakening the structural integrity of the meibomian glands. Together they cause a vicious and progressive cycle that makes Ocular Surface Disease somewhat difficult to treat. Because most people suffer from multiple causes of dry eye, the most effective therapy also involves multiple approaches.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) is a chronic and progressive condition. The outermost layer of the tear film, the lipid layer, is composed of oils that are secreted by the meibomian glands. When glands become blocked, they lose their form and begin to deteriorate over time. This leads to less than adequate production of the oils that are necessary to lubricate the ocular surface. More than 85% of people that suffer from Ocular Surface Disease have an unstable tear film due to compromised meibomian gland function. LipiFlow uses thermal pulsation technique to unblock compromised glands. Learn more about LipiFlow here.
Indoor and outdoor allergens affect the eyes year round. Other factors such as age, gender, and medical history can shed light on why some people are more sensitive to ocular irritation than others. While allergy medicine is readily available over the counter, it is hardly one size fits all. We recommend having a comprehensive allergy test during your dry eye exam to determine what allergens trigger your symptoms; and treating those allergens specifically. Controlling irritants from ocular allergies will inherently control inflammation that can lead to dry eye symptoms. Sub-lingual Immunotherapy is a custom allergy medicine formulated per the results of your allergy test.
While autoimmune diseases are commonly associated with symptoms that are unpredictable in nature, all of these diseases present increased inflammation throughout the body. People who suffer from autoimmune diseases can experience pain and discomfort anywhere; not excluding the ocular surface. Again, inflammatory agents that are caused by an impaired immune system create ocular surface symptoms that perpetuate dry eye. We will test you for the systemic diseases that have a strong association with dry eye symptoms, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, to avoid misdiagnosing your dry eye. Intense Pulse Light (IPL) is a dry eye therapy that constricts the vascular system and inflammation surrounding the eyes. Learn more about IPL here.