Two Types of Dry Eye

Written by editor
February 2, 2017

Did you know there are two primary types of dry eye?  Distinguishing between the two helps patients achieve comfort more quickly. If your eyes feel gritty, tired, or have a burning sensation, you may have dry eye.

The first type of dry eye is evaporative dry eye. Simply, the water component of tears evaporates, leaving the eye exposed. The layer of tears on our eye is composed of a base of mucus, followed by water, follow by a thin oil layer floating on top. The oil prevents the water component of our tears from evaporating. The oil layers helps our eyes to retain moisture. When our oil glands cannot produce enough oil, or the oil is of poor quality, this layer breaks up allowing for increased evaporation. Generally speaking this type of dry eye is best treated with LipiFlow, which unclogs oil glands.  Other therapy may include warm compresses, fish oil capsules, and tear drops like Refresh Optive Advance or Systane Balance.

Aqueous-deficient dry eye occurs when the water component in our eyes is lacking. This creates irritation and redness on the "whites" of the eye. Side effects of some medications, like anti-allergy pills and anti-depressants can lead to aqueous-deficient dry eye. Diseases like Sjogren's syndrome affect tearing significantly. Overall, drops like Restasis, Xiidra, Refresh Optive, and Systane Ultra help to treat this variety of dry eye.

Determining what type of dry eye you have is important on selecting appropriate treatment. Additionally, some patients can have traits from both evaporative and aqueous-deficient dry eye.  Common symptoms of dry eye include redness, fluctuating vision, grittiness, and tired eyes.  We can help you!

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