At one time we eye people worried about making thinner lenses for high prescription glasses. Later we fretted over the rising incidents of cataracts and eye disease in our aging American population. Then we agonized over LASIK. Currently the nagging conundrum is chronically uncomfortable eyes – inappropriately labeled dry eye when what’s really meant is “ocular surface disease” (OSD).
Why has OSD become a pervasive problem? Life style changes.
First, 70% of Americans use medication. Which meds are problematic? Well, to name a few: hormones, antidepressants, antihistamines, blood pressure meds, acne meds, pain relievers, heart burn relief, chemo drugs, sleep aids, glaucoma meds and psychiatric meds. Recognize any?
Second, we live in HVAC climates. Forced air systems in homes, businesses and automobiles increase tear evaporation, e.g. the absolute, not just the relative, humidity in an airplane is zero.
Third, electronic screens dramatically alter our blink patterns.
And then there is our endeavor for perfect vision with contact lenses, cataract surgery and LASIK – all compromise the eye’s surface – at least temporarily.
Starting to get the picture?
You may say, “So what. Has anybody ever died or gone blind from OSD?
No, but many are in a nagging existence altering not only vision but their personality – as if constantly having a pebble in their shoe. Try it sometime.
How prevalent are eye surface conditions? Like dental caries it affects many if not most of the American adult population, but unlike dental disease few know it lurks in their future. Even fewer know that like dental disease once treated, maintenance is needed, or it’s not long before you need more complex management.
So, what can be done?
In over 80%, the underlying sickness in OSD is meibomian gland disease (MGD). There is only one FDA approved treatment. It’s called LipiFlow, a fifteen minute procedure gently warming the meibomian glands and insulating all surrounding tissue. Thousands of sensors recognize when natural emollients are liquefied. Then delicate bladders gently massage the glands clearing and rejuvenating them. Much like cleaning your teeth it is beneficial to all, so LipiFlow is not only therapeutic but preventative. In fact prevention is the main purpose of LipiFlow.