Dry Eye is a chronic disease affecting more than 100 million people. Without proper treatment, it can continue to worsen over time. There are two forms of dry eye: evaporative and aqueous deficient. Some people can have a combination of the two forms. Tears are made up of three layers: the lipid (oil) layer, the aqueous (water) layer and the mucin layer. The lipid layer prevents tear evaporation while the aqueous layer provides moisture and nourishment to the eye.
Evaporative dry eye occurs when the lipid layer of the tears is deficient. It is estimated that 86% of all dry eye patients have evaporative dry eye. This form of dry eye is caused by MGD (Meibomian Gland Disease). There are approximately 75 meibomian glands in the lids of each eye and they create the oil layer that prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly. Tears can evaporate from 4 to 16 times faster with a deficient lipid layer. The lipid produced by a normal functioning meibomian gland has the consistency of olive oil and flows freely. With MGD, this oil can have the consistency of toothpaste and can be trapped in the glands. With chronic disease, the structure of the glands can be affected either by shortening in length or by completely shutting down. This damage is irreversible and can cause worsening of symptoms.
Image of meibomian glands with the Lipiview II
The Lipiview device is able to measure the lipid layer of the tear film to see if it is deficient. And now we can also view detailed images of the meibomian gland structure by DMI (Dynamic Meibomian Imaging) with the new Lipiview II. These dramatic images of the glands can show if the structure is healthy or if the glands are showing degenerative changes such as blockages, atrophy or thickening. And this imaging can be easily repeated over time to monitor the glands for changes making it easier to see the progression of this disease.
If the meibomian glands are showing signs of blockage and degeneration, treatment with The Lipiflow System may be warranted. Lipiflow is a groundbreaking treatment that addresses the root cause of evaporative dry eye, the meibomain glands. This twelve minute in-office procedure applies a combination of direct heat and massage to the eyelids. This liquefies the oil in the meibomian glands and gently expresses the oil out of the glands. Opening the blocked glands can allow your body to resume its natural production of normal tear film oil. While some patients report feeling relief soon after the procedure, it can take up to three or four months to see the maximum results. Although Lipiflow is not a cure for evaporative dry eye or MGD, it is a very important treatment aimed at preventing further deterioration of the meibomian glands caused by this chronic disease.
Geneva Eye Clinic is proud to be one of the few clinics in the Chicagoland area to have this breakthrough technological advance in dry eye treatment available for our patients. Now we can do more than just treat the symptoms, we can treat the cause.
For more information, call Geneva Eye at 630-232-1282.