Dry Eye Solutions
What is dry eye disease?
Dry eye disease is a common eye surface disorder with many possible causes. As many as 20% of the population is diagnosed with this condition although many more have experienced symptoms. The diagnosis is not made as many choose to ignore the problem.
What are the causes of dry eye disease?
The normal tear film is made of 3 layers: the superficial thin lipid layer, the middle aqueous layer and the deepest mucin layer. The lipid layer helps to reduce evaporation of tears and is primarily produced by the Meibomian glands along the eyelid margin. The aqueous layer consist of tears produced by the lacrimal glands whilst the mucin layer is produced by the conjunctival goblet cells. The hydrophilic nature of the mucin layer allows the aqueous layer to spread out over the eye surface.
Correspondingly, there are three different types of dry eye disorder: evaporative type ( problem lies in meibomian gland dysfunction leading to faster tear film break-up time and more rapid evaporation of the aqueous component), aqueous deficiency type (related to the reduction of tear production by the lacrimal gland with age or certain disease conditions) and mucous deficiency type (problem is related to a decrease in goblet cells which are responsible for secreting the mucin layer of the tear film).
A careful examination at the slit-lamp microscope and adjunctive tear tests will help your eye doctor discern the cause of the dry eye condition and recommend the appropriate treatment.
What are the treatments available for dry eye disease?
Aside from dealing with the root cause where possible, your eye doctor will be able to recommend the appropriate ocular lubricant eyedrops or gel medications to increase ocular surface comfort. Occasionally, anti-inflammatory eyedrops are also indicated.