Dry Eye has reached epidemic proportions globally. Without proper assessment, treatment becomes hit and miss. The Eye Practice prides itself in having the most advanced Dry Eye Clinic in Australasia. In the last 5 years we have had an explosion of new information on dry eyes.
As one of the best optometrist specialists in Sydney focusing on dry eyes, we travel the world to keep up to date with the latest and best dry eye treatments. It is no wonder that so many of our patients will travel from Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and even Auckland to try and bring their dry eyes under control and get their life back.
It is very important to understand that the condition does not just appear over night. It takes years to develop to the point where it is debilitating for some people.
"How hard could dry eye management be?"
Misconceptions about treatment are rife. Many optometrists or ophthalmologists take the attitude that "if the eye is dry, then we need to wet it!" Unfortunately it is not that simple. In fact the so called main stay of its treatment is lubricating eye drops, which believe it or not when used too frequently or inappropriately can actually make dry eyes worse!
Dry Eye disease or dry eye syndrome is a dysfunction of the lubrication system of the eye. This can occur in a multitude of ways, which is why dry eyes are often referred to as a multifactorial disease.
The lubrication system of the eye is made up of the tear film, which has been analysed by scientists and has been found to be extremely complex. NO eye drop on this planet can mimic the human tear film properly, which is why it takes more than dry eye drops to treat dry eyes.
Tears - they're just water, right?
Human tears are primarily made up of an aqueous component, which is secreted by the lacrimal gland. The aqueous layer is mainly salty water and when the water evaporates in dry eye syndrome, the tear film becomes even saltier, which can cause the burning sensation that many patients complain about.
There are two other very important components of the tear film, which are meibum and mucous.
The meibum is secreted by the meibomian glands in the eye lids. When it is in short supply a condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction is the primary diagnosis. A recent study demonstrated that at least 80% of dry eye patients had some form of meibomian gland dysfunction. Think of meibum as engine oil. If the oil is insufficient or old the lubrication of the engine suffers and damage can occur.
Last but not least is the mucous layer of the tear film. This serves to anchor the tear film to the eye. Without a healthy mucous layer the tears cannot lubricate the eyes properly and the rest we know will lead to significant discomfort.
Please make sure you do not miss the short video below, which explains dry eyes and its problems in a simple but logical way.
Symptoms include burning, grittiness, pain, irritation, redness, and inflamed or flaky eyelids (blepharitis). A feeling like an eyelash being caught in the eye or a grain of sand is also common. Paradoxically watery eyes (also called epiphora) can be a symptom of dry eyes. How could this be? The premise is that once the eyes have become dry, the lacrimal gland goes into over drive trying to self correct the tear film imbalance. Unfortunately this is not a particularly effective mechanism, as the eyes flood with tears and they in turn flush out the oil and the mucous, which is also so important in protecting the ocular surface.
A particularly debilitating symptom is waking up with a painful red eye. This is called Recurrent Corneal Erosion, and occurs when the surface layer of your cornea sticks to your eyelid during sleep. It is usually caused by trauma or an underlying weakness, but is aggravated by having dry eyes.
Visit our dry eye symptoms page for more.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Studies show that over 80% of dry eye disease is caused or worsened by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction - a problem with the oily tear glands situated in the eyelids. Some medications can be culprits, but we must not forget the addictive use of digital devices such as the iPhone. In our extensive experience we have noticed an exponential increase in dry eye disease, even in teenagers. Constantly staring at these back lit gadgets causes atrophy in the blinking muscle of the eye lids, which in turn allows excessive air to continually irritate the eyes.
Other more obscure causes can be lagopthalmos, which often happens when we sleep. Auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren's syndrome cause inflammation in the whole body, which in turn can inflame and shut down the lacrimal gland.
Learn more about the causes of dry eyes.
Dry Eye Assessment
A Dry Eye Assessment at The Eye Practice is like nothing you have ever experienced. We don't treat eyes - we treat patients. No two treatment programs will be the same because no two people are the same. Successful treatment hinges on accurate diagnosis of the underlying causes of your particular variety of dry eye. You can learn more about our dry eye test here.
Dry Eye Treatment
This is where the optometrists of The Eye Practice excel. Diagnosis and assessment is essential to choosing the correct treatment options, but all possible options need to be available. Over the last 5 years we have noticed that the prevalence of dry eye symptoms seem to be increasing.
We will do our utmost to engage with you and keep you compliant with our treatments for the long haul. We stock the best range of cosmetics and other dry eye solutions (including eye masks) for your condition. What is critical to understand is that virtually everyone gets dry eyes at various stages of their life. Education and ongoing management similar to keeping ones teeth healthy is paramount to keeping this eye condition at bay. It is very common for many of our dry eye patients to have seen multiple practitioners over the years trying to find a solution to this most frustrating eye condition. Even though we cannot guarantee a quick fix, what we can guarantee is that we will treat your dry eyes with expertise, the latest technology and with enthusiasm.