How Common is Ocular Surface Disease and Dry Eye?

Over 30 million Americans have dry eye. And if you include the number of persons who live with or socialize with a person with dry eye, the number of affected Americans easily surpasses 75 million. This is pertinent because significant others must respect the needs of their spouse/friend/relative with dry eye and help create a dry eye friendly environment.

There have been significant advances in the understanding of dry eye and eye surface disorders over the past several years. These advances have increased our ability to successfully diagnose and treat common and rare eye surface disorders. For common eye surface disorders such as dry eye, irritated eye, red eye, as well as contact lens intolerance and eye infections, new medical therapies and approaches to treatment can restore a comfortable, healthy eye with improved vision.

Chronic Dry Eye: A Closer Look

Despite its prevalence, Chronic Dry Eye (known by doctors as keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is among the least understood eye conditions that affect large numbers of people. Many people mistake the dry eye symptoms for allergies, climatic conditions or just "eyestrain". While all of these may aggravate Chronic Dry Eye symptoms, they are not the cause.

Your eyes need a constant layer of tears — called the "tear film"— to maintain and protect the ocular surface. In Chronic Dry Eye, underlying changes to the health of the tear-producing glands can result in a change in the quantity and quality of the tears you make. This results in a tear film that can no longer provide enough nourishment or protection to the surface of your eye. This can lead to damage of your eye’s surface, which, in turn, can lead to the symptoms of Chronic Dry Eye. 

Symptoms of dry eye 

Different patients describe their dry eye symptoms in different ways: itching, irritation, light sensitivity, blurred vision and even too much tear production. Coping with any, or some of these symptoms is a challenge to millions of Americans. While many sufferers believe it is a condition that they must simply “learn to live with,” the truth is that untreated, Chronic Dry Eye can lead to more serious vision problems.

Diagnosis

  • In-depth analysis of your diet, blood work, and gut micro-biome. 

  • Meibography, tear-film saline concentration,  blink analysis, eyelash analysis (Demodex), tear break-up time , video-analysis of meibomian gland expression.

Treatments

  • Warm compresses
    • Warm compresses with often be one of the first things sufferers of dry eye are asked to try. They can be done at home at very little expense and can have great results. This is done to help relieve clogged meibomian glands by melting down hardened oils in the ducts.
  • Omega 3 supplements
    • Omega 3 supplements are often used to stimulate the fatty layer of the tear film for those dry eye sufferers with excessive tearing. 
  • Punctal Plugs
    • Punctal plugs are used in the case of those people who do not produce enough tears. The plugs are put in place in an effort to keep those tears that are produced in the eye.Intraductal
  • Meibomian Gland Probing
    • Intraductal Meibomian Gland Probing relieves symptoms of Obstructive Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Meibomian Gland Disease is arguably the most common cause of dry eye and has certainly been the most challenging to treat. Traditional therapies have failed to consistently provide effective results leading to ongoing suffering and frustration for patients and physicians alike.
  • Miboflow with Manual Gland Expression and BlephEx Eyelash Treatment 
    • Meiboflow is a concentrated heat treatment performed in office to give a more thorough heating to the glands than hot compresses can provide. 

Which treatment is right for me?

Because there are many varying causes of dry eye and new treatments being developed all the time, it is important to talk to Dr. Fishman about your eyes and together you will come up with the right treatment plan for you.