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What is Evaporative Dry Eye?

Middle Aged Woman Winter with dry eyesYour Dry Eye Specialists in Burlington Explain

Dry eyes are caused by a vast number of culprits, but most people experience similar annoying symptoms. It is typical to feel like sand is stuck in your eyes and you need to rub it out. Itchiness, swelling, redness, and blurry vision are also usual complaints. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to consult with your local dry eye specialists in Burlington, MA – the experienced eye doctors at Insight Optical.

The most common form of dry eye syndrome is Evaporative Dry Eye (EDE), which occurs when the tiny glands in your eyelids get blocked. Called meibomian glands, these glands release lubricating oil to coat your eye surface. When they are clogged, the moisture level of your eye is reduced.

What are typical causes of Evaporative Dry Eye?

Tears have a three-layer composition: water, oil, and mucus, and they are released constantly – not just when you cry. Tears cover your eyes, creating a smooth surface and helping to protect against infection. If your meibomian glands do not release enough tears because they are swollen or blocked, then your tears won’t contain enough oil to slow down the rate of evaporation. This leads directly to the soreness of Evaporative Dry Eye.

If you’re wondering how meibomian glands get clogged, there are a variety of ways. Staring at a screen and not blinking often enough can cause debris to accumulate on the edge of your eyelids, which blocks the glands. Other causes for clogged glands include:

  • Wearing contact lenses for extended periods
  • Skin conditions, such as psoriasis and rosacea
  • Medication side effects, such as from antihistamines, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, diuretics, and decongestants
  • Eye injury
  • Eye surgery

How Do Our Burlington Dry Eye Specialists Diagnose Dry Eye?

Symptoms alone are often enough to make a diagnosis of evaporative dry eye. However, to confirm the cause of your problem and recommend the most suitable dry eye treatment, we will ask you to share information about your overall health, lifestyle and medications. Our optometrist will also perform a comprehensive eye exam to detect or rule out clogged meibomian glands. Eye drops with dyes can be used to help us see your eye surface and observe the evaporation rate of your tears. We may perform specialized testing, such as placing a thin strip of paper under your lower eyelids, to measure tear volume. All of these procedures are quick and painless.

Who is at a higher risk for EDE?

Evaporative dry eye generally affects older people, although it can appear at any age. Statistically, it also affects women more frequently than men. People who have specific health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjorgen’s syndrome, thyroid disorders, and diabetes are also at an increased risk.

What Are the Symptoms?

Typically, eyes feel uncomfortable or painful, with symptoms that range from mild to extreme.

  • Stinging
  • Redness
  • Sensation that grit or sand is in your eyes
  • Inability to wear contacts
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye fatigue
  • Blurry vision that comes and goes
  • Swollen eyelids

What is the treatment for EDE?

Girl Smiling Brown Hair with dry eyesOur dry eye specialists in Burlington evaluate each patient’s condition thoroughly in order to recommend the best treatment. Sometimes only a simple change is needed, such as installing a humidifier in your home or changing the type of contact lenses you wear. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may also help, as they enhance the consistency of oils in your tears.

When there is a more severe blockage of the meibomian glands, we may advise you to apply warm compresses to your eyelids and use an over-the-counter eyelid scrub (often, baby shampoo works great!). Our eye doctor may also recommend artificial tears or prescription eye drops. The LipiFlow thermal pulsation system is another treatment for extreme cases of evaporative dry eye. This technology can help open up clogged meibomian glands and bring relief.

Evaporative dry eye can get in the way of your lifestyle, making it hard to drive, watch TV, read, and play sports. Yet there is no reason to live with the discomfort of this condition. Our dry eye specialists in Burlington are qualified and experienced in treating dry eye. Talk to us about your symptoms, and we’ll work with you so you see comfortably and clearly again!