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Dry Eyes

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry Eye Syndrome (or Ocular Surface Disease) is a condition caused by the reduction in quality and quantity of tears as a result of inflammation. Sometimes people don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. Minnesota Eye Consultants is proud to be an Accredited Dry Eye Center, utilizing the latest diagnostic and treatment technology.

Dry Eye Symptoms

Some common Dry Eye symptoms include pain from eye irritation, a sandy or gritty sensation, decreased tolerance to contact lenses and sensitivity to light. In early stages, the symptoms may seem to appear and disappear, but generally, worsen as the day progresses.

What Causes Dry Eye

There are many factors that can lead to your Dry Eye. As you age, you may secrete fewer tears, leading to increased dryness. Hormones likely play a role as well, as dry eyes are more common in women than men, especially post-menopausal women. Systemic diseases, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus and Riley-Day Syndrome, and diseases of the eye that affect the eyelids, the eye’s surface or the cornea, can also cause or aggravate dry eyes. Similarly, conditions that affect the eye’s ability to close or blink completely also dry out the surface of the eye.

Some patients experience dryness after refractive surgery. There is a decrease in tear production following LASIK and Photo Refractive Keratectomy Surgery (PRK) that can persist for 3-6 months. This can be significant enough that it requires frequent administration of artificial tear substitutes.

Environmental factors, such as a dry, windy climate, or smoke and air conditioning, may speed up tear evaporation as well.

The Tear Film

To better understand your Dry Eye, it’s best to start with the basics of how the tear film functions. The tear film protects the eye by cleansing and flushing harmful chemicals and environmental contaminants from the surface. This anti-infectious film, which covers the surface of the eye, consists of three layers: an oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucus layer.

Outer, or Oily Lipid Layer

The outer, or lipid layer of tear film, is very thin and oily. This layer of oil, which floats on the surface of the tear film, is secreted by the meibomian glands located just behind the lashes in the lids. The main purpose of the outer layer is to smooth the tear surface and prevent tear evaporation.

Middle, or Aqueous (Water) Layer

The middle, or aqueous (water) layer of the tear film, is secreted by the lacrimal glands and accounts for most of what we think of as our “tears”. This layer provides the surface of the eye with oxygen and various nutrients and washes away foreign particles or irritants.

Inner, or Mucin (Mucous) Layer

The inner, or mucin (mucus) layer of the tear film, is produced by the conjunctiva. This layer coats the eye’s surface with a substance called mucin, which enables tears to “stick” to the surface of the eye. This mucus layer also allows the watery layer to spread evenly over the surface of the eye, helping to keep the eye moist.

The eyelids are also important in maintaining a healthy tear film. Eyelids, which open and close normally, spread tears over the surface of the eye (the epithelium). This does not occur in patients with abnormal lid position, poor lid closure, or an incomplete blink.

Ideally, the eye is continuously bathing itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable. Tears can be produced in two different ways; at a slow and steady pace to keep the eye healthy and lubricated, and as a response to an emotion or eye irritation. It may sound strange, but excessive tearing is actually a symptom of Dry Eye/Ocular Surface Disease. If there’s a disruption in the healthy tear film, the eye may become irritated, causing an excessive amount of tears to help comfort the eye. So, oddly enough, patients who report having watery eyes may actually have Dry Eye/Ocular Surface Disease.

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common yet chronic condition where the eyelids become inflamed and irritated near the base of the eyelashes. This can occur due to systemic or skin conditions, bacteria or other pathogenic organisms.

Common symptoms include red, watery eyes, mattering or mucus discharge upon awakening from sleep, irritation and itching of the lid margins, foreign body sensation and stinging, blurred or decreased vision, and pain or discomfort.

Anterior Blepharitis affects the outside of the eyelid at the base of the lashes, and Posterior Blepharitis results mostly from the clogging of the meibomian glands (referred to as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction). Blepharitis involving the meibomian glands decreases the production of the oily tear film layer, leading to Dry Eye.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Meibomian glands secrete an important protective oil that helps shield the surface of the eye and prevent the tear film from evaporating. When meibomian glands become clogged, the tear film evaporates more rapidly and as a result, patients may suffer from a variety of symptoms (listed above in the Blepharitis paragraph). When these gland blockages occur and are left untreated, the meibomian glands can shrink, deteriorate and even disappear entirely. Your physician will evaluate both the function and structure of your meibomian glands to properly assess the overall health of the eyelid.

The innovative LipiView Interferometer at Minnesota Eye Consultants can take digital images of the meibomian gland structures and has the capability of measuring your oily protective layer.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Eye

As an Accredited Dry Eye Center, the Dry Eye Specialists at Minnesota Eye Consultants offer the most advanced diagnostic testing and Dry Eyes treatment options available. Click below to learn more about:

  • Lipiview measures lipid content and quality
  • TearLab® Osmolarity measures the salt concentration within your tears
  • Schirmers testmeasures the production of tears
  • The Sjo Test  – designed to help diagnose Sjögren’s Syndrome early

At Home Dry Eye Treatments

Dry Eye is typically treated with at-home dry eye care, artificial tears and/or prescription drops or ointments.

In-Office Dry Eye Treatments:

If your Dry Eye is more advanced, your physician may recommend in-office treatments to improve symptoms. With multiple in-office treatments available at Minnesota Eye Consultants, your physician will help you determine which procedure is right for you. Some in-office procedures include:

  • Punctal Occlusionpreserving your own tears
  • LipiFlow®Thermal Pulsation System for Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)helps to soften oil secretions that have plugged the meibomian glands.
  • BlephExreduce bacterial debris and the biofilm from your lid margin
  • Demodex in- office treatment for demodex blepharitis
  • TearCare®target the underlying cause of evaporative dry eye.
  • And more

Being a designated Dry Eye Center signifies a commitment to excellence in diagnosing and treating dry eye disease. Minnesota Eye Consultants has met stringent standards set by accrediting organizations, demonstrating a high level of expertise and dedication to patient care.

Equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by knowledgeable professionals, a designated Dry Eye Center offers comprehensive evaluations, accurate diagnoses, and tailored treatment plans.

Patients benefit from a comfortable and supportive environment where their dry eye concerns are addressed with precision and compassion. By earning this designation, a Dry Eye Center showcases its ongoing pursuit of advancements in dry eye research and treatment, ensuring that individuals receive the highest quality care for their ocular health and overall well-being.

Treatment Options for Dry Eye

Dry Eye is typically treated with at-home dry eye care, artificial tears and/or prescription drops or ointments. If your Dry Eye is more advanced, your physician may recommend Punctal Plugs or Punctal Occlusion, LipiFlow, Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL), BlephEx or Demodex to help improve symptoms.

Find more information on the in-office treatments offered at Minnesota Eye Consultants by clicking the button below.

Learn More About Dry Eye Treatments

Patient Testimonials

Sarah’s Dry Eye Story

Sarah was a patient suffering from dry, red, itchy, painful eyes, especially while wearing her contacts. Learn more about how Sarah worked with the Dry Eye Specialists at Minnesota Eye Consultants to find relief.

Dry Eyes Doctors


Serving Our Community

Minnesota Eye Consultants is proud to offer patients convenient access to eye care across the Twin Cities. We have 5 locations, each with an onsite ambulatory surgery center (ASC).

11091 Ulysses St NE
Clinic: Suite 300
ASC: Suite 400
Blaine, Minnesota 55434
Additional Blaine Information
12501 Whitewater Drive (East Building)
Suite 310
Minnetonka, MN 55343
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10709 Wayzata Blvd
ASC: Suite 100
Laser Procedures: Suite 120
Clinic: Suite 200
Minnetonka, MN 55305
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9801 Dupont Ave S
ASC: Suite 100
Laser Procedures: Suite 120
Clinic: Suite 200
Bloomington, MN 55431
Additional Bloomington Information
7125 Tamarack Rd
Clinic: Suite 100
ASC: Suite 200
Laser Procedures: Suite 250
Woodbury, MN 55125
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