Treatments for Ocular Surface Disease You May Not Know About
“Ocular surface disease” refers to a group of conditions that occur on the front layers of the eye, involving the tear film, the cornea, conjunctiva or eyelids. Some of these problems start as a minor irritation but can become worse, even leading to vision loss in some cases. The common ocular surface diseases we see include dry eyes, blepharitis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and rosacea. These disorders can occur along with other eye conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts, or they may occur on their own. Either way, it is essential to treat ocular surface disease to increase the patient’s comfort and prevent complications. Here are five treatments for an ocular surface disease you may not have known about before.
Eliminating underlying factors
Sometimes, there are outside irritants that make the patient’s symptoms worse. One possible ocular surface irritant is eye drops that contain preservatives, such as ongoing use of many drops for glaucoma. Makeup and other cosmetics around the eye can also be irritating, especially when combined with poor lid hygiene. Proper lid cleaning removes bacteria, crusts, and debris that may worsen ocular surface disease symptoms. When external irritants are removed, some patients find that their symptoms clear up significantly.
Introducing proper lubrication
Lubrication is essential to healthy, comfortable eyes. Lubricants serve a couple of important functions, including acting as a replacement for tears and helping dilute any ocular surface irritants. They can also reduce the friction of the eyelid on the cornea. There are many ocular lubricants available; your eye doctor can discuss these with you and help determine which one is right for you. Preservative-free drops will likely be recommended, as excessive use of lubricants that contain preservatives, especially in the absence of normal tear flow to dilute them, can cause or worsen irritation.
Therapeutic contact lenses
Therapeutic contact lenses are often helpful in cases of severe dry eyes and other problems. This approach is often overlooked in cases of dry eye, but it can be quite effective. One type of lens used for dry eye is the scleral lens, a specially-designed contact lens-shaped to leave space between the cornea and the lens and rest on the white of the eye. This shape allows for retention of moisture under the lens, which hydrates the ocular surface and makes many patients with dry eyes much more comfortable.
Controlling inflammation of the ocular surface
Almost every form of ocular surface disease involves a component of inflammation. Patients with inflammation of the ocular surface may experience pain, redness, or swelling of the eye or the eyelid. This type of inflammation is treatable with steroid medications. In mild cases, a weak topical steroid may be adequate; in more severe cases, more potent steroids will likely be indicated. In patients whose inflammation is caused by allergic eye disease, other medications may be used to reduce inflammation, such as antihistamines.
LipiFlow is a device specially designed to treat dry eyes. This treatment works by removing blockages from the meibomian glands, which produce oils that make up the protective lipid layer of tears. The LipiFlow activators are placed on the eyes, and then the eyes receive a combination of gentle pressure and heat that safely removes gland obstructions. The entire treatment takes only a few minutes, with maximum results noticed about six to eight weeks after treatment.
Managing ocular surface disease can be tricky, as many of these conditions are chronic with symptoms that can be controlled but not eliminated. Accurate diagnosis is key to determining the best treatment and achieving the best results. Contact Weston Contact Lens Institute today to schedule a consultation.