We have all had dry eyes at some point. Campfire smoke, harsh cold winters, and prolonged screen time can all leave our eyes feeling a little dry and scratchy. However, Chronic Dry Eye is a medical condition that affects many Canadians every year.
Dry Eye is caused when our eyes have problems with tear production. In some cases, our eyes are unable to produce enough tears to keep our eyes properly lubricated. In other cases, the tears we do produce do not contain enough meibum. Meibum is an oily like secretion that prevents our tears from evaporating too quickly.
Common symptoms of Dry Eye include:
- Sandy or gritty feeling
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Stringy discharge
- Sudden and extensive tearing
- A foreign body sensation
Depending on the cause and symptoms of your Chronic Dry Eye your optometrist may recommend a variety of treatments. While some, such as medicated eye drops and warm compresses, have been used for years technological advancements have created new and effective treatments for Dry Eye sufferers. New technologies include Lipiflow, Blephex, and Lacripep.
Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation is a highly effective in-office treatment for Dry Eye that combines warmth and gentle pressure to encourage your eyes to create better quality tears naturally. Most patients require only one treatment every nine to twelve months, and a clinical study showed that 79% of patients reported a significant decrease in Dry Eye symptoms within four weeks of a single Lipiflow treatment. A single treatment takes only twelve minutes.
Lipiflow is a particularly effective treatment because it does not just treat the symptoms of Dry Eye but instead goes right to the source.
Some cases of Dry Eye are caused by Blepharitis, a condition that causes our eyelids to become inflamed, crusty, and sore. Blepharitis can be caused by Dry Eye, as well as problems such as a bacterial infection, parasites, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), and fungal infections.
BlephEx is a device that eye care professionals can use to gently exfoliate the edges of our eyelids and lashes in order to relieve blepharitis symptoms. This in-office procedure is painless and is an effective way to clear our eyelids of inflammatory exotoxin and bacterial debris.
The procedure is very straightforward. First, your eye care professional will treat your eyes with numbing drops before using the BlephEx device. The whole procedure usually lasts between six and eight minutes and can provide immediate relief and encourage your eyes to resume producing normal tears.
Lacripep is still in its clinical trial phase, but the results so far are promising. Lacripep is a topical eye drop that aims to treat the causes of Dry Eye, as opposed to just treating the symptoms. While traditional eye drops seek to reduce inflammation Lacripep aims to stop our eyes from becoming inflamed in the first place by targeting the cells in our eyes that come in contact with our tears and creating a stable tear film (which reduces evaporation).
Unlike traditional eye drops, which are washed away almost instantly, Lacripep remains in our eyes for up to twenty-four hours by soaking into our lipid layer. This allows the eye to release the medication slowly, providing continuous relief as it works.
Dry Eye is an irritating condition that affects many Canadians, but there is relief. New treatments are available or in clinical trials that can not only treat the symptoms of Dry Eye but address the cause. Many new treatments also encourage our eyes to produce enough high-quality tears to keep our eyes moist, reducing or eliminating Dry Eye symptoms entirely.