Dry Eye Syndrome also known as “Chronic Dry Eye” is a very common problem, affecting an estimated 59 million Americans.  Symptoms include blurriness, itching, burning, tearing, and foreign body sensation.  These are often exacerbated by activities such as reading, driving, or computer work, as well as, environmental factors such as wind, cold, or sun.

Dry eye is generally related to a decrease in the quantity and/or the quality of the tears that continually bathe the surface of the eyes.  This “baseline” tear production is responsible for keeping the vision clear and the eyes comfortable.  Although some severe cases of dry eye are associated with systemic autoimmune disorders, most dry eye disease is idiopathic – its cause is unknown.

There is no cure for dry eye. However, there are a number of therapeutic options to consider in treating this chronic disease. Our Dry Eye Clinic has found a directed and targeted approach to be useful in determining which treatment is most likely to be of benefit for different patients.

What to Expect During Your Dry Eye Appointment

During a dry eye clinic visit, there are several measurements taken to determine tear production and quality of the tear film. Please do not use any eye drops for 8 hours prior to this examination. A Dry Eye Clinic visit is not part of regular eye exams, call our office to find out if you could benefit from this service. You may also contact us online to set an appointment at our Duluth-Hermantown Location.

Treating Dry Eye

As a primary method of treating, we will always start with artificial tears/eye drops and warm compresses with massage and cleaning lids. 

You may need:

  • Prescription eye drops that help you create your own tears.
  • Plugs that help keep your tears in your eyes longer. 
  • Your eyelids are expressed to allow the oil glands to function properly.
  • A Bruder mask can ease the use of warm compresses. It is a mask that heats up in the microwave and stays warm for 15-20 minutes to give your eyelids a full treatment of warmth. 

If you have already tried these options and your eyes are still dry and irritated, you will need to schedule an appointment in our dry eye clinic. We can then determine what would be the next step in your treatment. 

About LipiView and LipiFlow

First, we will test your tear production, the quality of your tears, and the function of your oil glands with our LipiView Dry Eye Diagnosis tool. The LipiView is a digital imaging tool we use to evaluate your severity of dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD. We have an instrument here at Relf EyeCare that will help to comfortably express those glands while you relax with your eyes closed. 

Next, the LipiFlow is a combination of warmth and vibration to help interrupt the physical deterioration of the glands and unblock glands. It will take about 12 minutes of treatment and both eyes are usually done at the same time. This treatment is usually only necessary once per year. We will help determine if this is the best course of dry eye treatment for you. 

How does a LipiFlow work?

This gif demonstrates how the contact like base is placed on the eye and the outter piece of the machine massages the eyelids.

Johnson and Johnson describes the TearScience® LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System, is a medical device used by physicians in addressing Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). It consists of a Console and a single-use sterile device, known as the Activator, and has a drug-free mechanism of action. Eye care professionals use the TearScience® LipiFlow® System to treat MGD patients in-office with confidence and efficiency.

The TearScience® LipiFlow® System represents more than 10 years of dedicated research and is protected by more than 30 patents. A phased pressure profile with adaptive force equalization and proximal-to-distal peristaltic motion evacuates gland contents as the inner lid is gently heated.

Dry Eye Clinic FAQ’s

Can dry eye make my vision blurry?

Yes!  The surface of the eye is like a window.  If the surface is dry and rough, it’s like looking out a dirty window!  It can make vision blurred.

Why don’t my artificial tears help me?

There are many different reasons for dry eye, anything from not making enough tears to having a poor oil layer in the tear film.  Coming in for Tear Lab testing allows doctors to narrow down the cause of your symptoms and prescribe a treatment regimen that will work for you.

My eyes water. How can I have dry eye?

When the eyes become very dry, they reflexively tear.  The quality of these reflex tears is not adequate, they do not lubricate the eye.  This reflex tearing is often too much for the drainage system to handle, and the tears run down your face!

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