Dry eye is an uncomfortable eye condition that affects millions of Americans. It has no single fixed cause or trigger, making it difficult to self-diagnose. Luckily, our optometrists can analyze your symptoms and make treatment recommendations.
Our dry eye clinic is designed to give you the most comprehensive exam possible, allowing us to deliver an exact diagnosis and build a game plan to relieve your eyes of that burning, gritty sensations. Let The Eye Care Team lead you to dry eye relief!
When your eyes don’t receive enough lubrication to function normally, we refer to the condition as dry eye syndrome. This means your body is either producing insufficient tear volume or low-quality tears. Normal tears have 3 functioning layers:
Lipid layer, on the outside to prevent evaporation
Aqueous layer, in the middle to provide hydration and nutrients to the eye
Mucus layer, closest to the eye’s surface to help tears stick
Beyond comfort, normal tear production is important for preventing eye infections and keeping the eye’s surface clear for vision. Our eye exams uncover the cause of your dry eyes and find solutions to hydrate your vision once again.
Causes & Symptoms of Dry Eyes
Dry eye causes can be numerous. Arid weather conditions, environmental allergies, or the air-intake system for your office can all be factors. Other potential causes include:
Side effects from other medication (such as antidepressants or birth control pills)
Poor, non-varied diet
Skin diseases near or around the eyelid
Meibomian gland dysfunction
The symptoms of dry eyes can be fleeting or chronic, depending on the severity of your condition. Symptoms include:
Itchy and red eyes
Burning sensation around the eye and eyelid
A gritty feeling in the eye
Discomfort using contact lenses
Dry Eye Testing Technology
We are one of the leading dry eye testing facilities in Eastern Washington and continue to invest in equipment to help solve your dry eye symptoms. Our state-of-the-art technology can even test for nocturnal lagophthalmos (sleeping with your eyes open), which you certainly can’t know for sure on your own!
Dry eye testing is comfortable for virtually all our patients and gets you closer to seeing clearly and feeling refreshed.
TearLab® Osmolarity System
We’d like to perform a dry eye evaluation, even if your symptoms are mild. The Eye Care Team has partnered with TearLab® to provide a total diagnostic perspective on your dry eyes. Using the TearLab® Osmolarity System, we can determine the composition of your tears and better understand the root cause of your dry eyes.
Meibomian Gland Analysis
A thorough investigation of your meibomian glands is conducted using the TearScience® LipiView®. This advanced imaging technique provides information on your blink rate and meibomian gland structure.
Your meibomian glands line your eyelids and are responsible for secreting oils. These oils keep your eye’s surface lubricated and prevent the evaporation of tears. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when these tiny glands stop producing oil efficiently. The Eye Care Team can determine whether you’re suffering from MGD or another type of dry eye and tailor your treatment plan accordingly.
We can identify excessive inflammation in the tear film using the InflammaDry diagnostic tool. Further assessments include how well your meibomian glands are secreting lubricating oils and analyzing your eyelids to help further identify the root of dry eye syndrome.
Dry Eye Treatments
Several highly effective treatments for dry eye can be performed both in the office and at home. However, no single treatment will work for everyone. Knowing the cause and the severity of a person’s dry eye helps us develop an effective treatment plan.
The Eye Care Team is one of only a few practices in Spokane that offers LipiFlow treatments for patients with meibomian gland dysfunction – a condition found in 86% of people who suffer from dry eyes.
During a LipiFlow treatment, activator devices are placed on either side of the eyelid, contoured for the shape of the eye and shielding the eye’s surface. The activator devices administer a gentle heat and pressure to eyelids. These forces are designed to remove blockages in the meibomian glands, allowing oil to be secreted normally.
The entire process usually takes less than 15 minutes and can reduce dry eye symptoms for longer than 9 months. LipiFlow is considered a comfortable procedure ideal for patients with MGD.
We can make suggestions for artificial tears that replace moisture in the eye. These types of eye drops are a short-term solution for brief bouts of dry eyes. We recommend consulting our eye doctors before using an over-the-counter product. We’ll advise you of the effects of eye drop preservatives and other things to consider. If your dry eyes are chronic, it’s best to visit our practice for more customized treatment options.
Medicated Eye Drops
Medicated eye drops are prescription products designed to improve tear production with regulated use. Our optometrists will ask questions and examine your glands to understand if this treatment makes sense for you.
We may also prescribe oral medications.
If dry eyes do not respond to eye drops, we may recommend punctal plugs. These tiny plugs prevent tears from draining too quickly. Punctal plugs can partially or fully block the drainage ducts and can be easily removed if necessary.