Types of Dry Eye Disease
Why are Tears important?
Tears are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Tears are produced by the lacrimal glands and consist of proteins, electrolytes and vitamins that are critical to maintain the health of the eye surface and to prevent infection. They are constantly produced to clean, nourish, and protect the eye surface. Tears bathe the eye’s surface keeping it moist and wash away dust and debris. Any condition that alters the proper production of tears can make the eyes unhealthy and result in dry eye.
Tears are comprised of 3 layers: lipid (oil), water, and mucus. The composition of these components is what helps to protect and nourish the surface of our eyes. The lipid or oil layer prevents the evaporation of the water layer. The mucus layer helps spread the tears evenly over the eye surface. When these layers are not functioning properly, the tears can either evaporate too rapidly or they do not reach the entire eye surface, which will then cause the symptoms of dry eyes.
There are 2 predominant forms of dry eye: aqueous and evaporative.
Aqueous Dry Eye
Aqueous dry eye is characterized by tear deficiency. It occurs when the lacrimal glands don’t produce enough of the watery component of tears. In recent years, we have learned that true reduced tear production is rare. What we know now is that the problem almost always originates with blockage of the tiny Meibomian Glands in our eyelids. These glands produce essential oils that form the top layer of the tear film and are the core protective element that is essential to long-term visual comfort.
Evaporative Dry Eye 0r Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Evaporative dry eye affects 65% of dry eye patients. It is caused by Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which creates a deficiency in the oil layer of the tear film. These glands make the lipid or oily part of tears that slows evaporation and keeps the tears stable. This can be the beginning of other dry eye disease problems including damage to the cornea and sight-related issues.
When the Meibomian glands are blocked or the glands have been compromised, the eye becomes exposed. Gland blockages can occur over time from debris that is caught in the eyelids, digital device and computer usage and, for women, just putting on make-up over the course of many years.This leads to dry eye signs and symptoms. This is known as MGD or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. MGD is easy to diagnose. The treatment of MGD is essential for the long term management of dry eye.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is perhaps the most common cause of dry eye and has without a doubt been the most challenging to treat. Traditional therapies have failed to consistently provide effective results leading to ongoing suffering and frustration for patients and physicians alike.
Normal Gland Structure
Gland Shortening and Loss
Significant Gland Loss
Severe Gland Loss
Learn more about Dr. Cremers’s cutting edge Meibomian Gland Treatment Dysfunction for those who have severe dry eye syndrome.