February 04, 2020
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and dry eye are often grouped together since they have similar symptoms, such as itching, burning, and irritation. However, while dry eye is due to a lack of tears, MGD is due to a lack of oil production to protect the tears. This distinction is important when choosing a treatment.
Lack of Oils vs. Lack of Tears
Your tear film has three components. First, there is an oily layer. This layer prevents tears from drying too quickly and keeps the surface smooth. Your eye’s meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oil for this layer of the film.
Next, there is the watery layer. This layer is located in the middle of the film and it represents the actual tears. Your lacrimal glands are responsible for the watery layer.
Finally, the mucus layer is located inside of the tear film. The conjunctiva produces the mucus layer which is necessary to spread the tears.
If you suffer from MGD, your meconium glands can’t secrete oil, the oil is too thick, or the quality is poor. In all three cases, the tears evaporate too quickly, and your eyes become dry.
However, if you suffer from dry eye, your lacrimal glands cannot produce an adequate number of tears. This could be due to tear gland damage, medications, or medical conditions, such as diabetes and lupus. Aging can also slow down tear production.
Both conditions are treatable, although the treatments do vary.
Treatment for MGD
If you have MGD, your optometrist might recommend LipiFlow to treat it. LipiFlow is a thermal pulsation treatment that eliminates meibomian gland blockages. The treatment takes approximately 12 minutes for both eyes, and the blockages are normally gone within two weeks to a month.
LipiFlow is the preferred treatment because instead of masking the problem, it treats the source of the condition. The results from the treatment can last for years, but MGD is a chronic condition. When the symptoms return, you can go back to your optometrist for another treatment.
Treatment for Dry Eye
If you have dry eye that isn’t caused by MGD, LipiFlow will not work for you. However, you can undergo a TrueTear treatment to increase your tear production. The neurostimulation device sends pulses of energy to promote tear production.
Unlike LipiFlow, you’ll use the TrueTear device at home. You’ll insert the TrueTear tip into your nose and turn on the device. Most people only need to use it for one minute, but it can be used for up to three minutes.
TrueTear provides immediate relief and you can use the device daily to stimulate tear production.
This is just one of the many treatments available for dry eye and your optometrist will be able to help you find the treatment that’s right for your needs.
Are you suffering from MGD or dry eye and want relief? Contact East Main Vision Clinic online or by calling 253-750-0700 to go over your treatment options.