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What to do when you suffer from Dry Eye

If your eyes tend to appear red and feel slightly gritty, sore, watery, or your vision fluctuates through the day, you might be suffering from Dry Eye. This condition is generally caused by a disorder referred to as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), whereby the tiny oil glands (Meibomian Glands) along the edge of the eyelids become blocked and consequently don’t secrete enough oil into the tears. As these oils are vital in preventing the watery tear layer on the eye surface from evaporating, a lack of them can result in discomfort and blurred vision, as the eye has insufficient lubrication and moisture.

Dry Eye is a common and increasing phenomenon in the UK, affecting an estimated 20% of the total population.* This number rises to as many as one in three people aged over 65, as the condition is often linked to the natural ageing process. As we get older, the number of Meibomian Glands in our upper and lower eyelids decreases, leading to a reduced quantity and quality of the vital oils they produce. Age isn’t the only factor, however, as contact lens wear, prolonged use of digital screens, and environmental conditions can all be named as some of the leading causes of MGD. Laser Eye Surgery and Intraocular Lens Surgery, on the other hand, are generally seen to be wholly unrelated to the development of the condition.  Working from home has for many patients contributed to the digital eye strain they experience.

The use of digital devices can play a role in the development of MGD as they can slow down our blink rate. A healthy blink rate is vital in ensuring that debris is cleared from the eye surface, in turn preventing it from collecting along our eye lids and blocking the openings of the Meibomian glands. When blinking decreases, our eyes are not naturally cleansed as often as they need to be, and the natural replenishment of tears and oils can become severely restricted. Contact lenses can also play a role. Besides lens wear and the use of digital screens, environmental factors can also affect oil production and therefore impact the protection of your tear film. These factors include dry climates, the use of air-conditioning and indoor heating, smoke, and wind.

While it can be tempting to opt for eye drops or sprays for quick relief, it’s important to remember that these only mask the problem rather than help fix it, and can sometimes even cause further damage to the eye. Eye drops that contain preservatives, for example, could cause irritation to the eye when they are used for an extended period of time or more than 4 times a day. Multi-dose eye drops can also be at risk of bacterial contamination, as the bottle tip can become contaminated if it touches your eye or another surface. Luckily, there are treatments that target the cause of MGD rather than just manage its symptoms, therefore providing longer-lasting relief. One of such specialist treatments, referred to as LipiFlow, is available at Optical Express.

LipiFlow is a revolutionary, non-invasive procedure that uses a precise application of both heat and pressure to the outer and inner eyelids. This combination of heat and pressure can clear out any blockages and improve drainage, allowing the Meibomian glands to function normally again and produce the essential oils needed for a healthy tear film. LipiFlow takes minutes to perform and is virtually pain-free, with some patients even comparing it to a spa treatment for the eyes. What’s more, it has proven effective in alleviating dry eye symptoms in the 86% of patients that suffer from MGD. These patients see a significant improvement within 3-6 weeks.

As LipiFlow treatment should generally be repeated at 12 to 18 month intervals, it is recommend to adopt it into your annual healthcare routine - much like your annual eye test, dental exam, or GP check-up. This will ensure that your eyes stay healthy, clear, and comfortable, and that you can enjoy complete freedom from irritating and painful Dry Eye symptoms.

So, if you feel like you might be suffering from dry eyes as a result of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, it might be time to seek advice from your Optometrist. With LipiFlow treatment providing long-lasting relief to 86% of patients and eliminating the need for eye drops and sprays, it could be the answer you’ve been looking for. At Optical Express, we can provide you with a free consultation to check your suitability for LipiFlow, so don’t wait any longer and get in touch.

*https://www.saga.co.uk/magazine/health-wellbeing/treatments/dry-eye-treatments

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