Great news folks! Dr Jim Kokkinakis just got back from New York Vision Expo where he attended a number of dry eye treatment lectures by some of the world’s experts on Dry Eye disease.
The latest medical findings clearly confirmed that the approach we have taken for the last five years at The Eye Practice is in fact correct. Most dry eye disease stems from problems with the oily part of your tear film, and not the watery part. Tears are composed of a thicker layer of watery (aqueous) tears, covered with a thin layer of oil (lipid) tears to prevent evaporation of the watery layer. If the oily layer is compromised, it doesn’t matter how much watery tears you produce – they will evaporate and leave you with dry eye symptoms.
The leading cause of dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction. This where the glands in your eyelids that produce the oily tears, become blocked with thick, waxy secretions. Addressing this problem is at the root of successful dry eye treatment.
LipiFlow – a clear winner in dry eye treatment
According to findings presented at this year’s Expo, a professional in-house treatment called LipiFlow is the definitive treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction (and therefore most dry eye disease). The Eye Practice introduced LipiFlow to Australia in 2012 and it has been a game-changer for many chronic dry eye patients.
Before LipiFlow is performed, it is imperative that patients comply with at-home maintenance as detailed by an experienced dry eye practitioner.
Blepharitis (or inflammation and crusting around the eyelid margins) needs to be aggressively managed as it is often associated with meibomian gland dysfunction. Professional lid debridement is often necessary before LipiFlow treatment, to maximise the effect. This involves clearing the blocked openings of the row of meibomian glands along the edge of each eyelid.
Inflammation plays a role too…
One of the most useful therapeutic lectures of the Expo dealt with the link between inflammation and dry eye. Both in the eyelid margins and the ocular surface, inflammation goes hand in hand with dry eye and treating it aggressively is the key to kick-starting successful dry eye treatment. Unpreserved steroid eye drops can switch off your body’s harmful inflammatory response and immediately improve symptoms. Allergy can also play a role, and anti-allergy medications may also form part of the treatment plan for dry eye.
Computers cop it…
No surprises here; leading dry eye experts presenting at the conference warned against the link between dry eye and excessive computer use. The proliferation of digital devices is a major contributor to dry eyes. Twenty or thirty years ago, dry eye was mostly limited to post-menopausal women and patients with severe autoimmune disease. Today, it is seen across all ages and both genders. We are starting to see teenagers with dry eyes and the prevalence seems to be exponentially increasing. Who would have thought that staring at a digital screen all day could be so bad for you?