"My eyes were becoming increasingly red and inflamed so I decided to visit Florida Eye Specialists & Cataract Institute where I learned about M22 Optima™ IPL as a treatment option that could help"
If you suffer from dry eyes, you’ve got a lot of company. It’s been estimated that between 25 and 30 million Americans have dry, itchy, reddened eyes. That figure may actually be low. Others believe that about half of all adult Americans are bothered by dry eyes on a regular basis. Older people and women are more likely to suffer from dry eyes.
When you’re experiencing dry eyes, it often feels as though something is in your eyes. It’s tempting to rub them, although you shouldn’t, just to feel a few seconds of relief. Actually, the problem isn’t that something is in your eyes, it’s that something is lacking – tears.
Your eyes depend on the lubrication received from tears. When sufficient tears aren’t being produced or they’re low quality tears, your eyes feel dry as a result.
- Tearing or weepy eyes
- Excessive dryness
- Discharge from the corners of the eye
- Pain from the dryness
- Heavy eyelids
- Blurry vision
Our doctors and staff deliver your eye care with a personal service that’s second to none. We consider our patients an extension of our family, and treat you the same wayGregory Henderson - Founder
Dry Eye Disease
Dry eyes are one of the most common eye complaints. At one time or another, you may have experienced red, itchy and even painfully scratchy eyes. Normally, you’d reach for the eye drops and hope it would get better.
- As you probably know, there can be a lot of reasons you might be suffering from dry eyes. Allergies might kick it off, giving you a runny nose, red, scratchy eyes and other symptoms. As people get older, dry eyes become more common.
- One of the most common reasons for dry eyes is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). In fact, MGD is probably one of the most common ailments you’ve never heard of. The Meibomian gland is in your eyelids. Although this gland isn’t exactly a household word for most families, it was first described in 1666 by a German doctor.
- Although Meibomian Gland Dysfunction sounds as though it’s referring to a single gland, there are actually many Meibomian glands. The upper eyelid contains as many as 40 Meibomian glands while the lower eyelid has up to 30 glands. The purpose of the Meibomian glands is to keep tears from evaporating too quickly (causing dry eyes). They accomplish this feat by secreting oils onto the eye’s surface.
- When the Meibomian glands are blocked, inflamed or not functioning for some other reason, there isn’t enough oil left for the tears. The end result: too-rapid tear evaporation and itchy, scratchy eyes. During treatment, the hardened oils blocking the glands are liquified and released.
- To repeat, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction isn’t the only reason for dry eyes, but it’s the most common reason. If you suffer chronically from dry eyes, it’s worthwhile visiting your eye doctor for an exam. Chronic dry eyes can damage your vision if left untreated.
Why are Tears so Important?
Lubricating or basal tears are always present, bathing the cornea (the outer surface of the eye). Every time you blink, these basal tears wash over the cornea. This is critical for eye health since the tears both nourish the cells and provide a protective layer against environmental factors. The blurry vision that is occasionally associated with dry eyes occurs because the tears actually help focus light.
Tears are produced by glands near the eye that act as tear factories. If something happens to disrupt the proper functioning of these glands, the amount or quality of the tears is affected. Dry eyes is the result.
Tears Are Very Complex – They’re Not Just Water
Tears may look like water, but they’re actually composed of more than 1,500 different proteins, mucus, fatty oils and, yes, a little water. All of these components work together to keep the eye’s surface silky smooth and protected from irritants, dust, infections organisms and other environmental dangers.
A tear actually has three distinct layers.
- The outer layer is produced by the Meibomian glands. This lipid layer is oily and helps to prevent tears from evaporating too fast. The oil helps the tear remain longer on the surface of the eye.
- The middle or aqueous layer is water and water-soluble proteins. It’s produced by another set of glands, the main lacrimal gland and associated “helper” glands. This layer is responsible for nourishing the cornea and conjunctiva, a mucous membrane covering the inside of the eyelids and the front of the eye.
- The inner or mucin layer is responsible for binding water from the middle layer so that the eye stays wet.
What are the Causes of Dry Eyes?
Since tears are so important, dry eyes are all about problems related to tears. The glands might not be producing tears, or the tears might not have enough oil and evaporate too quickly. Since tears have so many components, over 1,500, something can affect this very delicate balance. The perfect tear “recipe” will be missing some necessary ingredients.
Many factors can be responsible for dry eyes. Sadly, many of the problems causing dry eyes to occur are beyond our control. However, your eye doctor at Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute can evaluate your eyes during a thorough examination and let you know what can be done to help your eyes.
- Many medications affect your eyes. Some of the most common include decongestants, antihistamines, birth control pills, antidepressants, medications for anxiety, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s and hormones given during menopause.
- Once you’re over 50, you’re more likely to have dry eyes. Tear production begins to decrease.
- The Meibomian glands that help produce tears can be adversely affected is you have blepharitis (inflamed eyelids) or rosacea (a skin disease).
- Many autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus scleroderma as well as diabetes, thyroid problems and insufficient Vitamin A can also cause dry eyes. This is one reason it’s important to have regular eye examinations if you have medical issues since a seemly unrelated disease can adversely affect your eyes.
- Pregnant and post-menopausal women are prone to dry eyes.
- Smoke, wind, blowing sand and intense dryness cause tears to evaporate too quickly.
- If you spend longer than you should looking at a screen (something most of us are guilty of at least some of the time), your eyes will become too dry because you aren’t blinking enough. Looking away from the screen frequently at something across the room will help a little.
How are Dry Eyes Diagnosed and Treated?
- The first step is always a diagnosis. Since there are so many possible causes, it’s important to gain as much information as possible.
- It may be possible to relieve your dry eyes with something as simple as changing a medication to an alternative med that won’t cause dry eyes.
- Mild symptoms are helped with over-the-counter meds such as artificial tears.
- Wearing sunglasses with side shields can really help protect your eyes when outside. Take a look at our blog on which eyeglasses are best for your eyes.
- It bears repeating that too much screen time can be helped by looking away, blinking frequently or closing the eyes for a short time to help to replenish tears.
- Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can help.
- There are prescription dry eye medications for dry eyes. Discuss this with your eye doctor.
M22 Optima™ IPL Therapy
One of the most common causes of dry eyes is a problem with the Meibomian glands, necessary for producing the oils that are an important component of tears. These glands can become clogged with dry oils or be unable to do their job for another reason.
IPL Therapy is an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved treatment for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) has been used for many years to treat skin issues and to remove unwanted hair. Research has found that IPL Therapy is an effective treatment for chronic dry eyes caused by malfunctioning Meibomian glands.
This groundbreaking treatment makes use of the latest technology, the M22 Optima™ IPL machine. The M22 Optima™ IPL works by focusing the correct light pulses (wavelengths of 500-800nm) into the Meibomian glands, the root cause of your dry eye problem. This FDA-approved treatment makes use of the oxyhemoglobin in the blood vessels which absorbs the light emitted by the IPL machine. This raises the temperature of the affected cells and blood vessels, breaking up the oil blockages in the glands that are preventing the production of healthy, refreshing tears.
IPL offers many benefits if you suffer from Dry Eye Disease including:
- Less need for the constant use of eye drops
- Improved eye comfort and function
- Treatment of the root cause of your chronic dry eyes – MGD
This treatment for dry eyes is safe when conducted by an experienced eye doctor and only takes about 15 minutes. A series of four treatments are often recommended. Maintenance treatments every six months or so may also be recommended. Although every patient is unique, most people experience relief from the symptoms of chronic dry eye disease.
Florida Eye Specialists and Cataract Institute is proud to be Tampa Bay’s leader in complete eye care. We’ve been providing premiere eye care since 1981 with the personalized service we’re known for.
To learn more about dry eyes and to schedule an appointment to receive IPL Therapy at our Brandon Eye Clinic office, contact a member of our staff. We’re always happy to answer your questions regarding eye health.