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What is Dry Eyes

Tears have several important functions:

  • They wash away debris and waste products from the eye surface.
  • They keep the cornea moist and comfortable. If the cornea starts to dry out, vision will blur.
  • Provide nutrients to the eye and carry immune substances to help prevent and fight infections.

The tears consist of three layers, each produced by a different set of glands located on the conjunctiva and the eyelids. The layers need to mix in just the right balance, otherwise, the tears will either not lubricate the eyes correctly or evaporate from the eye surface too quickly.

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes

  • Blurred vision, especially after concentrated work like reading and driving.
  • Burning or irritated eyes
  • Sandy, gritty, scratchy
  • Sore or stinging
  • Persistently watery eyes
  • Redness
  • Sensation of dryness
  • Decreased comfort with contact lens wear

What Causes Dry Eye

  • Aging: The level of tear production decreases with age. At 65, we produce about 40% of the tears as at 18
  • Meibomian Gland dysfunction
  • Environment: Dry, windy weather, heaters and air conditioning all cause greater evaporation of tears from the eye surface.
  • Hormonal changes: Pregnancy and menopause both see hormonal changes that will alter tear production
  • Concentrated tasks: When we concentrate we blink up to 50% less. This means fresh layers of tears are not washing across the eye as regularly. This can occur with driving, reading, computer use and TV.
  • Medications: many medications can cause dry eyes including the contraceptive pill
  • Arthritis: dry eyes are common with arthritic conditions
  • Thyroid problems
  • Contact Lens Wear: Contact lens wear can alter tear film stability. Many people stop wearing contacts because of dry eye symptoms.

Why Do My Eyes Water If They’re Dry?

If the tears are not lubricating the eyes effectively, then the eyes will not be moist and comfortable. This will cause irritation and stimulate more tear production. These reflex tears are more watery due to the gland that secretes them, so they are much more unstable and tend to run off the eye surface very easily.

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Types of Dry Eyes

Aqueous Tear Deficiency

Aqueous Tear Deficiency ADDE is one of the two main categories of dry eyes related to underproduction of tears.

Dryness results from reduced lacrimal tear secretion and volume. This causes tear hyperosmolarity (increased saltiness), because, although the water evaporates from the ocular surface at normal rates, it is from a reduced aqueous tear pool. Tear film hyperosmolarity causes hyperosmolarity of the ocular surface epithelial cells and stimulates a cascade of inflammatory events. It is uncertain whether evaporation is reduced or increased in ADDE. It is possible that this is determined by the stage of the disease.

ADDE has two major subclasses, SS dry eye (SSDE) and non-SS dry eye.

Sjogren Syndrome Dry Eye

Sjogren syndrome is a general disease in which the lacrimal and salivary glands are targeted by an autoimmune process; other organs are also affected. Dry eyes, mouth and other orifices are common.

Non-Sjogren Syndrome Dry Eye

Non-Sjogren syndrome dry eye is a form of ADDE due to lacrimal dysfunction. There are no systemic autoimmune features characteristic of SSDE. The most common form is age-related dry eye.

Evaporative Dry Eyes

Evaporative dry eyes is a result of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction(MGD): a common, chronic disorder of the meibomian glands, which are the small oil-secreting glands that line the inside of the top and bottom eyelids. These glands secrete oily compounds, which are an essential component of our tear film that lubricates the surface of the eye, providing clear vision and ocular comfort.

MGD is where the glands start to malfunction and not secrete appropriate amounts or consistency of these oily compounds. Most commonly they under-secrete leading to poor tear film quality, quick evaporation of tears, and “dry eyes”. They may also over-secrete leading to excessively oily tears with possible associated dermatitis conditions causing discomfort and inflammation around the eyelids. MGD is now considered to be the leading cause of dry eyes: 70-80% of cases.


What is the cause?

MGD may be caused by obstruction of the fine meibomian gland ducts that line the interior edge of the eyelids, by skin debris blockage or hardening of the oily matter effectively forming plugs. Scarring can also cause damage to the duct openings. The process is also influenced by age, sex, and hormonal disturbances, and may be associated with skin conditions like dermatitis and acne rosacea. The end result is a reduced delivery of the meibum oils to the lid margin and tear film lipid layer; leading to tear film instability, increased evaporation, dry eyes, ocular surface inflammation and damage.

Who Suffers From Dry Eyes?

Dry eyes may affect any age group, but it is more common in females aged 30+ and increases in incidence with age. It is also more common in contact lens wearers, and with some medications.

Can I prevent Dry-Eyes?

Following are some simple preventative measures you can do every day to minimise the chances of developing dry eyes

  • Never apply eye makeup to the edge of the eyelid BEHIND the eyelash line
  • Carefully remove all makeup around the eyelids at the end of each day
  • Perform warm compresses for 5 minutes followed by gentle finger roll massage across the eyelids several times a week
  • Eat a diet with 3-4 serves of oily fish each week like tuna, salmon or other darker flesh fish: high in omega 3
  • Remember to blink regularly when doing extended periods of computer or other near tasks

Treating Dry Eyes

Diagnostic Testing

Usually, a patient is told they have “dry eyes” after a quick look through the microscope by their eye care practitioner. At the Gold Coast Dry Eyes Center, we believe utilizing the latest technology and the latest scientifically validated assessment protocols leads to a more accurate diagnosis, and thus a more suitable treatment plan can be implemented that is customized to your personal condition. We utilize the following detailed testing procedures to fully understand the nature of your condition and ensure we start your care, knowing what we are truly dealing with.

  • Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) patient symptom questionnaire used by the worlds leading dry eyes scientists
  • Tearlab Osmolarity testing considered essential for dry eye diagnosis and monitoring
  • Tear Analysis Digital Scan to measure the rate of evaporation of your tears
  • Tear Volume Testing
  • Comprehensive biomicroscope assessment of the ocular surface, eyelids and tear ducts
  • Vital dye staining and photography to assess the extent of ocular surface dryness
  • Assessment of the Meibomian Glands and their secretions: the root cause of the majority of dry eyes

After completing the suite of diagnostic tests, our optometrists have an accurate understanding of your current dry eye status and can formulate an appropriate customized treatment plan to start your journey back to comfortable eyes.. We thus gain a comprehensive picture of the health of your ocular surface and tear film.

Book an appointment at Envision Optical today!

IPL Therapy

IPL for dry eyes is a relatively new treatment option, developed over the last 8 years and commercially available the last 3 years or so.

What is it?

E-Eye is a device that generates a polychromatic pulsed light by producing perfectly calibrated and homogenously sequenced light pulses. The energy, spectrum and time period are precisely set to stimulate the Meibomian glands in order for them to return their normal function. Many patients are familiar with IPL technology in the treatment of skin conditions and hair removal. E-Eye IPL is a dry eye-specific machine that utilizes the same proven, safe technology.

The E-Eye does not directly affect the Meibomian glands. Its action is INDIRECT by stimulating nerve conduction which then activates the glands for secretion and contraction. The treatment effects are cumulative and lasts:

1 week after the 1st session

2 to 3 weeks after the 2nd session

6-12 months after 3 to 4 sessions


Who Can Use It?

IPL therapy is particularly applicable to patients who are suffering from evaporative dry eyes or showing signs of it developing. The initial evaluation will establish the suitability of a patient for therapy

Where Is It Available?

E-Eye Therapy is available at the Gold Coast Dry Eyes Center clinics located at Envision Optical Tweed Heads South and Burleigh Heads. Step one is booking for a comprehensive dry eye evaluation to determine your suitability for therapy.

Why Is It So Effective?

Published studies have shown an 87-90% treatment success rate. Earlier intervention will lead to greater success BEFORE permanent damage occurs leading to gland atrophy. The established treatment protocol is 3 sessions conducted at Day 1, 15 and 45. A fourth session on day 75 may be required in more severe cases. The E-Eye IPL device has been registered at the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration for the treatment of dry eye syndrome.

Other Treatments

Blephasteam Heat Therapy and Gland Expression

This therapy forms the mainstay of our treatment programs for evaporative dry eyes caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. This in office procedure involves wearing the Blephasteam goggles for 15 minutes. This creates a “heat chamber” environment that softens the solidified oils blocking the openings of the glands . You will then see your optometrist who will perform debridement of the eyelid margins, clearing debris and dead skin from the openings of the glands. This is followed by expression and massage of the eyelids to force the oil blockages out of the gland tubes. Once these blockages are fully cleared, normal function can start to occur again. You will usually require at least 2-3 sessions of Blephasteam Therapy to clear all blockages.

MGDRx Eyebag Home therapy

Traditionally we tell patients to heat a face washer, hold against your lids and maybe gently massage the lids and this will help stop the glands get blocked. This is usually ineffective for most patients as the heat does not last long enough to soften the oil blockages in the glands. Scientific studies have indicated that the MGDRX EYEBAG is the most effective heating option to give the heat levels for long enough to soften the blockages and promote good oil flow from the glands. We include an Eyebag as part of our take home treatment pack.

Blephadex Wipes and Demodex

Demodex mites are naturally occurring on our skin but sometimes get out of control and cause blepharitis, an irritating reaction of the skin along the eyelids, particularly around the base of the eyelashes. If signs of this exist, then treatment with daily Blephadex wipes, which contain teatree oil in concentrations known to effectively kill demodex mites can be the most effective treatment

Eye Drops

Oculocin Propo eye drops are a natural based dry eye treatment with no known side effects. The key ingredients are: Propolis, Aloe Vera, and Chamomilla. They provide dry eye relief and comfort, while also providing a mild anti-septic action which helps in cases of blepharitis related dry eyes.

Lacrimal Lavage

Some patient’s watery eyes are caused by narrowing of the tear draining ducts. We are able to investigate to detect any narrowing or blockages and then perform treatment to widen up and flush out the tear drainage ducts to ensure they are draining normally. If necessary we will refer to eye surgeons who sub-specialise in the correction of tear duct problems.

Punctal Plugs

Some patients eye irritation is produced from aqueous deficient dry eyes or not enough tears. We are able to insert small plugs into the tear drainage ducts to help more tears stay on the ocular surface and provide more lubrication for the eyes.

Nutrition for Dry Eyes

The mainstay of nutritional therapy for dry eyes is a high-quality omega 3 supplement. The omega 3 has an anti-inflammatory effect and will take at least 3 months to start to reach full effect, so you must be patient. Detailed advice will be provided in your management plan. Dietary Considerations in Dry Eyes

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