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Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center offers patients the most advanced, proven technology to treat blocked Meibomian glands, the leading cause of chronic dry eye. It is estimated more than 23 million people over the age of 20 suffer from chronic dry eye and if left untreated, it often becomes so uncomfortable that patients must make lifestyle adjustments. Dry eye can also impact one’s vision and eye health if left untreated.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a long-term chronic disease that causes discomfort and may compromise vision if left untreated. The condition occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or the appropriate quality of tears to keep the eyes lubricated, healthy and comfortable. The eyes produce tears either at a slow, steady pace or they produce large quantities of tears due to irritation or crying. Excessive tearing from dry eye may sound counterintuitive, but it is the eye’s response to discomfort. If the tears do not keep the eye wet enough, the eye becomes irritated and prompts the gland to make more tears.

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Types of Dry Eye

  • Evaporative Dry Eye is caused by blockage in the Meibomian glands that create the lipid (oil) layer of the tear film and are located in the eyelids. This condition of obstructed glands is known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). When the glands aren’t working properly, they do not produce enough tear film oil and the tears, which lubricate and keep the eyes comfortable, evaporate too quickly. An insufficient oil layer can cause tears to evaporate four to six times faster. 
  • Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye occurs when the lacrimal glands do not create a sufficient amount of aqueous (water) to keep the eyes moist. Traditional treatments such as topical eye drops may help alleviate symptoms from this form of dry eye.

Causes and Symptoms of Dry Eye

What causes Evaporative Dry Eye?

  • Age, contact lens use and hygiene, cosmetic use, and illnesses, particularly diabetes, may cause or exacerbate Evaporative Dry Eye.
  • Hormonal changes in women during menopause, particularly decreasing levels of estrogen, can cause thickening of the oils secreted by the Meibomian glands, which in turn can result in blockages.
  • Decreased estrogen levels may enhance conditions under which staphylococcal bacteria can proliferate in Meibomian glands. This results in a decreased oil secretion rate.

Who’s affected?

Over 100 million people worldwide suffer from dry eye disease. Men and women at any age can be affected; however, dry eye increases with age and often affects women after menopause.

What are the symptoms?

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Stinging
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Sensation of something in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light

Why is it important to treat dry eye?

If left untreated, dry eye can result in visual deterioration. Dry eye is a real physical condition that requires treatment to stop the cycle of deterioration and worsening symptoms. It is a chronic disease that must be properly diagnosed and managed. Without proper treatment, Dry eye deterioration may result in:

  • Increased tear evaporation
  • Unstable tear film
  • Damage to the eye’s surface (cornea)
  • Higher levels of discomfort
  • Inflammation and cell damage
  • Fluctuation and decrease in vision

Treatments for Dry Eye

Chesapeake Eye Care and Laser Center is proud to be the first practice in our local community to offer patients a new, revolutionary treatment for dry eyes. LipiFlow® is an exciting breakthrough technology that treats the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye. It provides up to 12 months of symptom relief and takes less than 15 minutes to perform in our office.

LipiFlow is a Thermal Pulsation System designed to treat Evaporative Dry Eye by unblocking the Meibomian Glands that produce the lipid (oil) layer of our tear film. This innovative technology works by applying warm heat to the inside of the eyelid near the blocked glands while simultaneously providing a gentle massage to the outside of the eyelid. This combination of heat and applied pressure opens the Meibomian Glands, allowing them to secrete the blocked oil. Once this procedure is completed, the glands resume natural production of tear film oil and most patients experience symptom relief almost immediately. Since Meibomian Gland Dysfunction is a chronic condition, most patients will need to repeat the LipiFlow treatment yearly.

Additional Treatments for Dry Eye

Punctal Plugs
Punctal Plugs are an adjunct in dry eye treatment. Punctal Plugs preserve a patient's own tears by reducing the drainage of tears through the nasolacrimal duct. They are available in both temporary and permanent forms.

Eye Drops
Many forms of eye medications are available to include artificial tears, allergy eye drops, Restasis®, and Xiidra®. These medications work by various mechanisms to add to the tear volume, allow the tears to better coat the eye or block cells which compromise the ocular surface.

PROKERA® biologic corneal bandage devices are used by eye doctors around the world to heal and treat eye diseases such as, keratitis, common dry eye, recurrent corneal erosions, filamentary keratitis, persistent epithelial defects, neurotrophic corneas, herpetic ulcers, and many other ocular surface diseases.

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