What is Chronic Dry Eye Disease?

Your tears function to protect the eyes and keep them lubricated and comfortable.  Chronic Dry Eye Disease (CDED) is the decline of the quantity and/or quality of the tears produced.  It is caused when the tear glands in the upper and lower eyelids do not produce enough tears, or they don’t produce the right kind of tears.  The phenomenon causes irritation, scratchiness, burning, redness, and discomfort.  Chronic Dry Eye Disease is the most common of all eye disorders, affecting approximately 20% of our population.  Chronic Dry Eye Disease can lead to vision loss.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

CDED has many causes, which explains why millions are affected. The most common causes include:

  • The Aging Process   Tear flow normally decreases with age.  In fact, approximately 75% of individuals over age 65 suffer from CDED symptoms.
  • Contact Lens Wear   Contact lens wear can dramatically increase tear evaporation, causing discomfort, infection, and/or increased protein deposits.  Research shows that CDED is the leading cause of contact lens intolerance.
  • Hormonal Changes in Women   Various hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and menopause can contribute to CDED.
  • Environmental Factors   People who are exposed to smoke, air pollution, high altitude, sunny, windy, cold or dry air conditions are at risk for CDED.
  • Side Effects of Disease/Medications   There are several diseases and medications which can lower your ability to produce tears. Be sure to give your doctor a complete medical history.
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome   An immune system disorder characterized by inflammation and dryness of the mouth, eyes, and other mucous membranes.  This disorder damages the lacrimal glads and affects tear production.
  • Laser Vision Corrective Surgeries   Following various ophthalmic surgical procedures, patients may develop CDED.  Many patients have benefited from temporary punctual occlusion following such procedures.

How is Dry Eye Diagnosed?

Accurately diagnosing dry eye is the critical first step to implementing a proper treatment plan. Dry eye disease can be diagnosed through a comprehensive exam from your eye doctor, which may include:

  • Symptom questionnaire
  • Physical examination of the eyelids and cornea
  • Measurement of the quantity & quality of tears
  • Diagnostic tests that measure tear composition

What is InflammaDry®?

InflammaDry is a diagnostic test that can be performed in your eye doctor’s office to test your tears for the presence of inflammation.  Inflammation may increase as dry eye progresses into a chronic condition, and if left untreated, can potentially damage the cells on the surface of your eye.  By using the InflammaDry test to determine if there is an above normal level of inflammation on the surface of your eye, your eye doctor can determine the best and most appropriate dry eye treatment plan for you. 

How does InflammaDry Work?

To perform the InflammaDry test, tears are collected from your lower eyelids. Each eye requires the use of a separate InflammaDry test.  A small, soft piece of fabric will be gently dabbed along your lower eyelid to collect tears, very similar to the way a paper towel absorbs liquid from a surface.  The tear collection process takes less than a minute and is not painful.  Once the tear sample is collected, the InflammaDry test is activated and results are provided before you leave your doctor’s office.  A positive InflammaDry test result indicates that there is a significant amount of inflammation on the surface of the eye.

What Do We Recommend?

  • Lubricating Eye Drops: There are several over-the-counter medications that we can help you choose from.
  • Punctal Occlusion   As the name suggests, these devices block the tear duct, which is the drainage duct that carries tears away from the surface of the eye.  Blocking these drainage ducts prevents tears from draining away too quickly.  Punctal occlusion can be compared to putting a stopper on a sink drain, keeping the tears in the eye’s surface for longer periods.  This widely performed procedure is safe, quick, painless, and totally reversible.  Punctal occluders are made of soft, flexible silicone, similar to that used in contact lenses.  Though they are barely visible to the naked eye, they are carefully manufactured into an extremely smooth and precise design. Read more.
  • FreshKote   FreshKote is a lubricant that stabilizes the tear film, provides high oncotic pressure, assists healing of the ocular surface, enhances wettability of the ocular surface, and helps to restore proper osmolarity of the tear film.  With its patented polymer blending, FreshKote is uniquely formulated to treat all 3 layers of the tear film. FreshKote completely wets the ocular surface, even the hydrophobic areas, with its synergistic patented blending. Read more.
  • Prokera   Prokera is a therapeutic device used by eye doctors around the world to protect, repair, and heal damaged eye surfaces. Prokera is made by clipping a piece of amniotic membrane tissue in between two rings made out of a clear, flexible material.  Eyes treated with Prokera have quicker healing, less pain, less scarring, and less inflammation.  The amniotic membrane in Prokera is thin and clear like the tissue on the surface of your eye and protects your eye’s damages tissue while inserted. Read more.