To understand DED, it’s critical that we understand the importance of maintaining a healthy tear film. A normal blink rate of approximately 22 blinks per minute and gives the eye the moisture it needs to stay healthy. The cornea (clear dome that covers the front of the eye—i.e. the part of an eye that you would place a contact lens) is the only part of the body with no blood supply. You can’t see through blood or blood vessels. The body has invented an amazing way to solve this problem—an oily tear film. There are approximately 20-25 small glands in lid margins (Meibomian glands) that excrete a very special oil that builds up on the lower lid between blinks. During each blink we create the exact amount of pressure needed to squeeze out the required volume of oil. Our top lid comes down and grabs this tear build-up (tear meniscus) and spreads it out smoothly over the entire surface of the eye. This complex oil has the ability to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere around us and thereby become hyper-oxygenated. This allows a smooth transfer of oxygen to the corneal cells below—that’s how we feed the front surface of the eye!
There are many ways this healthy tear production can be disrupted leading to dry eye symptoms:
Medical reasons- arthritis, acne rosacea, (other autoimmune diseases), medications
Environmental- air conditioning, dry climate, incomplete blinks or incomplete closure when sleeping (lagophthalmos)
Lifestyle- computer use, post-op Lasik
Each individual may be affected differently and experience different symptoms. See your Optometrist for regular eye health check up and for Dry Eye Assessment. Early detection from Dry Eye Disease can prevent further complications and discomfort. It’s important that that we manage dry eye symptoms as early as possible. Just like our teeth, the eyes need to be maintained to ensure proper vision and health. Dry Eyes have many causes and symptoms and treatment needs to be a routine that you manage for a lifetime.
An important starting point for dry eye treatment at any stage:
Moist heat compresses: Tranquileyes googles are able to deliver 40 degrees Celsius for a consistent 10-15 minutes (a warm facecloth or poor quality gel packs are ineffective and may even cause more problems)
Use EyeEco Tea Tree foamer (1%) daily to help eliminate build-up of bacteria on lid margins and treat infestations of demodex.
Use a non-preserved hyaluronic acid based tear (i.e. Hylo Gel gel drops). This artifical tear mimics the function of a healthy tear film. They contain no preservatives like most products in screw-top bottles.
Dry Eye is caused from many different things. Here is a list of just a few:
Meibomian gland dysfunction- MGD
Blepharitis (chronic infection of eyelids and lashes)