Dry eye is a common problem caused by many different mechanisms. These mechanisms ultimately lead to excessive evaporation or a decrease in the production of tears, a major component of the tear film.
The tear film is a complex layer of protein, water, and oils. This multilayer needs to be in perfect proportion to stick together, remain stable and avoid excessive evaporation. For many years, dry eye has been treated solely with artificial tears. Modern dry eye treatments however, focus on identifying and treating specific causes to dry eye and provide more sustainable results.
Common causes include:
Evaporative dry eye is a condition caused by excessive tear evaporation, which normally is controlled by a thin layer of oils floating over the watery component of the tear film. This oily fluid, called meibum, is produced by the meibomian glands, located along the eye-lid margins. Meibum can sometimes be thicker than usual, a condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction, which is found in the vast majority of people with dry eyes. This can lead to an unstable oily layer that facilitates evaporation.
It is difficult to normalize meibum secretion. Its quality, however, can be improved with periodic drainage of the Meibomian glands. This process involves warming up the eyelids (in order to melt the meibum) and squeezing out the glands. This can be done manually, or with different specialized technologies. Additionally, nutritional supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids have proven to be effective.