Causes of Dry Eye
The main causes of dry eye stem from Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE), Aqueous Deficiency and Sjogren’s Syndrome. To learn more about each of these and how they relate to Dry Eye Syndrome, please keep reading for a thorough description below.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE)
MGD is the most common form of lid margin disease and causes 80% of dry eye cases. The oil glands along the eyelid that secrete oil to help prevent tear evaporation become blocked with thickened oil. Chronically clogged meibomian glands eventually become unable to release the necessary oil, resulting in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes. Some cases of MGD are associated with Rosacea, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the skin on the face. The most common symptoms are dry, itchy, red eyes, typically worse in the morning. Rosacea is likely caused by a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. A person is more likely to develop rosacea if they have light skin, are prone to flushing, are between the ages of 30 to 60, or have a family history of rosacea.
The most frequent cause of blepharitis (inflammation of the lids) is Demodex, a very common mite that has an affinity for the eye lash follicles. Demodex presents as waxy collarettes at the base of the eyelashes and is one of the causes of blocked meibomian glands. The inflammatory response can result in red, itchy eyelids. This infestation on the lids can be treated with a medicated lid wipe and in more severe cases an in-office procedure is performed that mechanically removes all debris from the lids so that the medication is more effective.
Aqueous Deficiency Dry Eye
This is a chronic, progressive disease in which the lacrimal (tear) glands fail to produce enough volume to maintain a healthy eye surface. This type of dry eye is more common in women, those with autoimmune disorders, and patients on certain medications.
Sjogren’s Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease in which a person’s white blood cells attack their moisture producing glands. The primary symptoms are dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue and joint pain though some may only have one or two of these symptoms. Nearly 4 milling Americans suffer from Sjogren’s syndrome with 9 out of 10 of those being women. Often this disease is overlooked or misdiagnosed. In the past, diagnosis has been limited and invasive. Our office now offers detection testing, known as the Sjo test. This is the first panel with the ability to detect the disease in its early stages. For more information on this test or Sjogren’s Syndrome, please contact our office.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and find options to relieve your dry eye symptoms.