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Dryness, Itchiness, Redness… Don’t assume it’s just allergies!

womans eye tearingAt our practice a routine eye exam does not just consist of updating your eyeglasses prescription, but checking the eye health as well. This brings us to the part of the exam where the optometrist will not only shine a bright light into your eyes, but will proceed to gently push (and sometimes even pull) on your eyelids. The doctor is checking for an array of eye diseases that can affect your eyelids, such as Meibomitis [MY-bo-MY-tis].

Meibomitis is a chronic inflammation (-itis) of the Meibomian glands. There are about twenty Meibomian glands running along the lower eyelid, while the longer, top lid houses about forty. These glands are a modified form of sebaceous glands that produces a sebum often referred to as “meibum”.  Meibum is an oil that helps to lubricate the surface of the eye. This lubrication is necessary to help maintain not just the smoothness and moisture of the eye, but also good vision.  Healthy meibum has a certain color, viscosity and physical composition produced with each blink.  And, considering that we blink about 15,000 times or more per day, the eye is constantly kept lubricated.  Meibomitis is a chronic ocular disease that leads to enlarged, irregular, and clogged glands that limits and then ultimately stops the production of meibum.

Furthermore, this disease can lead to other ocular diseases such as Blepharitis (redness, itching, swelling of the eyelid) and Evaporative Dry Eye Syndrome. Fortunately, at our practice we take pride in not only successfully diagnosing hundreds of these cases, but also providing a variety of treatment options to our patients.

While examining your eyelids, if Meibomitis is detected, your optometrist will then choose the best treatment option for your case. Over the years we have found that the most successful approach to treating this disease is a synergistic one; simultaneously treating the disease both internally and externally. A mild-moderate case of Meibomitis may require simply adding an eyelid scrub to your daily hygiene routine, lubricating drops, or a hot compress with massage to your eyelids. We may also recommend an Omega-3 fish oil as a part of your treatment.

Unfortunately, if the previous treatment options fail to resume the natural flow of oil, then the next step would be a procedure known as the Maskin Meibomian Gland Intraductal Probe or Maskin Probe for short. The Maskin Probe is a simple out-patient procedure performed in many optometrists’ offices such ours. Essentially, the doctor applies an anesthetic gel to the eyelids and then uses a small, blunt probe to gently remove any blockage within the glands. This treatment is known to provide immediate and gratifying relief for many patients. A final form of treatment currently available to patients is a newer procedure called the LipiFlow.  LipiFlow works by applying heat to the internal eyelids accompanied by pressure to the outer lids to help stimulate your bodies’ natural production of oil.  Although we do not perform this procedure at our practice, we can refer our patients to a nearby location providing this treatment.

Signs of Meibomitis may include itchiness, grittiness and watery eyes. If you have any of these symptoms, do not assume it’s just allergies, you should see your local optometrist as soon as possible.

Complete Eye Care in Lawton, OK has many doctors that see cases like this daily. You are in excellent hands at our Cache Road location with Dr. Chris Swanson, Dr. Shane Claborn, Dr. Brandon Ross, or Dr. Laura England. Each and every one of our doctors at Complete Eye Care studied in-depth about the long term health of your eye and extended your vision many years. Call us to make an appointment today, or schedule online here.