Dry Eye Center

Accent Vision Specialists

Optometric Physicians & Dry Eye Disease Specialists located in Santa Fe, NM

Dry eye is a chronic problem that most often develops with age. It affects more than 16 million Americans today. Although dry eye won’t make you blind and is easy to ignore, it can be frustrating and disrupt the quality of your life. Accent Vision Specialists is a Dry Eye Center of Excellence, which means that the practice is focused on the treatment of that condition. Dwight Thibodeaux, OD, and Paul Tachau, OD, are dedicated, compassionate, and highly-trained dry eye specialists who are ready to help you overcome the miserable symptoms of dry eye now. Call the Santa Fe, New Mexico, office to book today.

Dry Eye Center Q & A

What is dry eye?

Dry eye is a progressive disease that causes increasing symptoms including blurry, burning and scratchy eyes as you age. Fortunately, new state-of-the-art technology allows your Accent Vision Specialists eye doctor to diagnose and treat dry eye in the most effective way possible.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

Dry eye causes several frustrating symptoms that can disrupt your life if you don't get treatment. Your symptoms can include:

  • Eye fatigue 
  • Scratchy feeling
  • Intermittent blur
  • Burning
  • Tearing
  • Redness
  • Contact lens intolerance

Dry eyes can often mimic other eye problems in some ways. For example, eye infection symptoms can also include discomfort, burning, and teary eyes.

Dr. Thibodeaux and Dr. Tachau are both experts in the treatment of dry eye and other ocular surface diseases like blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and allergic eye diseases. You only get one set of eyes in your life, and eye disease can eventually cause long-term damage if untreated. 

What causes dry eye disease?

The main causes of dry eye stem from either Meibomian gland dysfunction, aqueous deficiency, or blepharitis—inflammation of the eyelid margin. 

Meibomian gland dysfunction and evaporative dry eye 

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the most common cause of dry eye disease and causes 80-90% of cases. In MGD, the glands along the eyelid that secrete oil to help prevent tear evaporation become blocked with thickened oil. 

Chronically clogged meibomian glands are unable to release the necessary oil, resulting in permanent changes in the tear film and dry eyes. 

Some cases of meibomian gland dysfunction are associated with rosacea, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects the skin on the face. The most common symptoms are dry, itchy, red eyes, typically worse in the morning. 

A combination of hereditary and environmental factors likely cause rosacea. A person is more likely to develop rosacea if they have light skin, are prone to flushing, are between the ages of 30 to 60, or have a family history of rosacea.

Over the last decade, several studies have shown that certain procedures addressing the oil glands in the eyelids significantly improve symptoms of dry eyes in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction. 

Demodex blepharitis

One of the most frequent causes of blepharitis (inflammation of the lids) is Demodex, a very common mite that has an affinity for the eyelash follicles. Demodex presents as waxy deposits at the base of the eyelashes and is one of the causes of blocked meibomian glands. 

The inflammatory response can result in red, itchy eyelids. You can treat this infestation on the lids at home with a medicated lid wipe. For more severe cases, an in-office procedure mechanically removes all debris from the lids so that the home medication is more effective.

Aqueous deficiency dry eye

This is a chronic, progressive disease in which the lacrimal (tear) glands fail to produce enough volume to maintain a healthy eye surface. This type of dry eye is more common in women, those with autoimmune disorders, and patients on certain medications.

Sjogren’s syndrome

Sjogren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease in which white blood cells attack moisture-producing glands. The primary symptoms are dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, and joint pain though some may only have one or two of these symptoms. 

Regardless of what causes your dry eye disease, the Dry Eye Center at Accent Vision Specialists is here to help.

How is dry eye disease diagnosed?

The Dry Eye Center at Accent Vision Specialists has a state-of-the-art instrument, the Oculus keratograph, that the eye specialists use for computerized tear analysis and dry eye disease diagnosis. 

The high-resolution color camera analyzes your tears, evaluating both the quality and the quantity. Additionally, the Oculus keratograph checks the quantity and function of your meibomian glands. 

How does the Dry Eye Center treat dry eye diseases?

The Accent Vision Specialists Dry Eye Center offers a wide range of treatment options for dry eye disease. After Dr. Thibodeaux or Dr. Tachau examines your eyes and review your symptoms, they can prescribe one or more of the following solutions.

Home therapy 

They may recommend warm masks at home, along with improved eyelid and lash hygiene. Hypochlor® spray is a gentle, refreshing, and soothing spray used for lid and lash hygiene. 

Hypochlor contains hypochlorous acid, which is produced and released by neutrophil cells, part of the body’s natural defense mechanism against pathogens such as bacteria or viruses.

Meibomian gland expression

Meibomian gland expression can relieve irritation and stabilize vision and also revitalize gland tissue. This treatment can prevent the eventual loss of the glands entirely. Your Accent Vision Specialists eye doctor performs this treatment in-office while using topical anesthesia in the form of eyedrops. 

The procedure is part of a comprehensive strategy for difficult-to-treat dry eyes. You may need meibomian gland expression if other treatments aren’t successful. 

The benefits of meibomian gland expression often last 6-12 months if you continue good lid and lash hygiene and home treatments as recommended. The treatment takes around an hour.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is an alternative light-based treatment that can be highly effective for moderate-to-severe dry eyes that don’t respond to other therapies. In clinical studies, the procedure increased oil secretions, tear stability and comfort in up to 90% of dry eye sufferers. 

An IPL session takes about 20-30 minutes and is typically combined with meibomian gland expression for optimal results. Most dry eye sufferers need a series of four treatments, spaced over 3-5 months, with follow-ups once or twice a year.

After the IPL/meibomian gland expression combination treatment, most dry eye sufferers can reduce topical medications and eye drops significantly.

Lacrimal occlusion

Lacrimal occlusion is a very safe, painless and effective treatment option for many dry eye patients. Plugs partially block the tear drain in the eyelids to decrease the loss of tears from the surface of the eye. 

There are two main types of lacrimal plugs, temporary (dissolvable) and permanent. The dissolvable plugs are for diagnostic purposes or short term treatment pre or post-surgery. Permanent plugs do not dissolve but removal, if necessary, is easy.  

The most common (but rare) side effect is excess tearing. Occasionally, they can be dislodged and lost. If the plugs are repeatedly lost, a minor surgical procedure can close the tear drain permanently.

Restasis® / Xiidra® / steroids

Restasis is a prescription eye drop used twice per day to stimulate tear production. This drop is instilled twice daily on a long-term basis. Occasionally, a short burst of steroid eye drops before starting Restasis gives more immediate relief.

Xiidra is a similar, newer drug used to treat dry eye disease by reducing inflammation which increases tear production. This drop is also used twice per day and works in as little as four weeks to relieve the signs and symptoms of dry eye.

Artificial tears

Lubricating drops are solutions specially formulated to moisten the eyes. Artificial tears should be used to supplement other dry eye treatments and do not provide long-term relief. 

A recommendation for preservative-free drops occurs when lubrication is used four or more times per day to avoid any toxic effects from the preservative. For MGD, oil-based drops are used to provide the lipid layer of the tear film that prevents rapid evaporation.

Oral medications

In some cases of dry eyes due to MGD or blepharitis, a short course of very low dose oral antibiotics works to help thin the oils of the meibomian glands and reduce inflammation along the eyelid margin.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish such as salmon, krill, flaxseed, and dark leafy vegetables, has been clinically found to benefit patients with evaporative dry eye. Many patients who regularly take Omega-3 supplements have noted a significant decrease in their symptoms.

Your Accent Vision Specialists Dry Eye Center eye doctor tailors a dry eye disease treatment for your needs to help you recover fast. 

When is dry eyes an emergency?

The Dry Eye Center at Accent Vision Specialists is always ready to help in an emergency. If your dry eye disease is causing serious pain, discomfort, eye discharge, eye inflammation, or other problems, call the office. 

The Accent Vision Specialists team is on-call for emergencies, even after normal business hours and on weekends. If you suffer from an eye injury, have an eye infection, or need urgent care for vision problems or eye diseases like dry eye, don’t hesitate to reach out now.

For help with dry eyes from a leading practitioner, call Accent Vision Specialists today.