Ask Family Vision Center: What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a very common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. Just like other eye health conditions, it can badly affect your day-to-day living. Family Vision Center, a trusted eye care practice that has offices in Crosby and Porter, has experienced doctors and advanced technology that can diagnose, treat and educate their patients with dry eyes.
The eyes are protected by three layers: oil (LIPID), water (AQUEOUS) and mucous (PROTEIN). Deficiencies in any of these layers produce different types of dry eye:

How is Family Vision Center’s approach different?

Due to chronic allergies as a child, Dr Szabo suffered from severe Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) at an unusually young age. It was not until she trained to become an Eye Doctor that she was diagnosed with the quite common, but underdiagnosed type of dry eye called “Lipid Deficient Dry Eye” or “Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)”. Additionally, she suffered from the more commonly diagnosed–often over-diagnosed– “Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye.” Having the unique experience of suffering from these two types of dry eye, Dr. Szabo and staff take a preventative approach when treating dry eyes. Different types of dry eye require different treatments in order to obtain long lasting relief. Having had many opportunities to try various remedies over the past several years, Dr. Szabo has verified the efficacy and compliance struggles of the average dry eye patient. She uses her personal experience and the feedback of thousands of patients who have successfully managed their symptoms as a guide for what works to relieve symptoms the fastests and for what to expect out of the treatments. In 2016, Family Vision Center of Crosby incorporated a highly effective and affordable “in-office” treatment to enhance or replace “at-home” remedies for those who have severe DES or who prefer to minimize their “at-home” commitment. These treatments provide much faster results and is a unique therapy that significantly reduces the burden to perform daily treatments at home. Ask Us about MiboFlo treatments today!

5: Things you didn’t know about Dry Eye…
Watery Eyes = Dry
Eyes Occasionally, a person may have watery eyes because the area where tears drain from the eyes is obstructed. This occurs commonly in newborns. The vast majority of people who suffer from watery eye do so because of evaporative dry eye. Evaporative dry eye often causes the moisture that protects your eyes from irritation to dissipate and causes your eyes to feel irritation–even if you don’t recognize the irritation as abnormal. This exposure is similar to getting a particle in your eye and makes the eyes reflexively release tears to wash away the irritant. Unfortunately, this added fluid is similar to running water over dry and irritated skin. It often leads to more irritation and can make the eyelids inflamed and raw.
Using rewetting drops could be making your dry eyes worse
There are 3 different types of tear deficiencies that are treated differently. Adding rewetting drops that are primarily composed of water, may offer short lived relief but add to the wateriness of the eyes. The added wateriness can cause irritation and inflammation of the eyelids that release oils and may further impede the release of oils into the tear film. The use of eyedrops that “get the red out” do not address the reason that a person’s eyes are red. They use decongestant medicine to constrict or narrow the blood vessels of the eye making the eyes appear more white. When the medicine wears off, the narrowed vessels dilate, making the eyes appear even more red and requiring more frequent use of the “red-out” eye drops. Treating the underlying reason that your eyes are red will have long term benefits that these eye drops cannot provide. In addition to these reasons, using rewetting drops may relieve mild symptoms temporarily but they do not always impact the reason the eyes are dry, so the untreated dry eye disease continues to worsen with every passing day.
You know those allergies that cause red, itchy, burning or watery eyes? They might not be allergies.
The most common type of dry eye is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD. This condition results from blockage of the glands that line the eyelid margins. As these glands fill with trapped oils, they become distended and stretched. This occurs gradually and may not be visibly noticeable. The stretching of the microscopic gland often causes itchiness which gradually progresses to pain with pressure and ultimately pain without pressure. This occurs most commonly in the corners of the upper and lower eyelids because the glands in these areas are the most easily obstructed. Many people believe that they have allergies because their eyes water during times when they are spending time outdoor in the wind, using fans, air conditioners or heaters. This wateriness, in many cases, is the result of evaporation caused by moving air rather than allergy-causing antigens in the air. People who have allergies often have dry eyes at the same time. The swelling and inflammation that allergies cause in the eyelids cause the oil glands to narrow and close. Many medications commonly used to treat allergies can reduce the production of fluid released by the lacrimal glands and inhibit the release of mucous by the mucous membranes (goblet cells) affecting all or the layers of the tear film.
Dry eyes ǂ old eyes; Old eyes ǂ Dry eyes While dry eye problems typically worsen over time if untreated, dry eye is a common problem for kids and young adults. Likewise, if preventative efforts are employed throughout life, old eyes do not have to be dry. While there are many factors that can cause eyes to be dry, the most common type of dry eye is completely preventable and treatable. Many people who are elderly can reverse their dry eye symptoms over time if they are treated appropriately and diligently. The physical changes that occur around the eyes with age may worsen dry eye syndrome but if eyelid therapy is maintained throughout life, some of these physical changes such as droopy lids, incomplete lid closure, irregular lid contour, eyelids turning in or out can be avoided resulting in more youthful looking eyes.
Can’t win a staring contest? You probably have dry eyes.
The number of seconds that you can keep your eyes open without feeling the need to blink is directly related to the quality, volume and coverage of your tear film. Eye doctors frequently use a test called Tear Break-up Time (TBUT) to assess the tear stability, tear distribution and blink deficiency that a person has. When a person blinks, a small amount of oil is expressed from the eyelid margin. This oil mixes with the water and mucous in the tears and is spread by the eyelids evenly across the cornea. If the oils are not released, there is not enough tear volume, mucous does not blend the water and oil layers together or the protective tear film is not evenly distributed, dry spots develop exposing and irritating the sensitive cornea on the front of the eye. When this irritation occurs, you will feel the need to blink. A normal, healthy tear film with provide 10 or more seconds of stable protection for the cornea. If you cannot stare at something for 10 seconds or more without feeling the urge to blink, you may have one of the many forms of dry eye.

How do I know if my symptoms are from Dry Eye Syndrome?
Common symptoms of dry eye often include:

  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eye
  • A sandy or gritty feeling as if something is in the eye
  • Excessively watery eyes often following very dry eye periods
  • Stringy discharge from the eye
  • Redness that may or may not be associated with pain
  • Episodes of blurry vision
  • Heavy eyelids
  • Eye fatigue

What can I do to treat Dry Eye Syndrome?
Depending on the reason for the dry eye condition, Family Vision Center doctors employ a number of treatment options for patients with mild, moderate or severe DES.

Where can I learn more about dry eye syndrome?