Dry Eye Treatment in Calgary

Our clinic offers specialized services for dry eye Calgary patients through our dedicated Centre for Dry Eye & Corneal Disease. Dry Eye is an inflammatory disease, and eye drops often only provide temporary relief of symptoms. Our doctors are trained and have special interest in the treatment and management of the underlying causes of Dry Eye Disease. Studies show that proper diagnosis of the specific causes for dry eye are critical to ensure treatment success. We believe strongly in taking the time to do all the testing needed to ensure your treatment can be tailored to ensure long term relief from dry eye disease.

Symptoms of Dry Eye Disease

Our tear layer and blinking mechanics are a highly complex system that must function well in order to lubricate, protect, and maintain the proper health of your eyes.  This layer consists of a matrix of mucus which helps bind water to the surface of the eye, a watery layer for nutrition, protection and lubrication, and a thin protective oily layer to prevent evaporation. Any breakdown can result in symptoms such as:

  • Burning, Grittiness, Foreign body sensation
  • Redness, Itching, desire to constantly rub the eyes
  • Excessive watering and tears overflowing onto cheeks
  • Feeling of wanting to close the eyes for relief
  • Inability to tolerate contact lenses

Causes of Dry Eye Disease:

  • The average blink rate drops from 12-15 times per minute, to 3-4 times per minute when using a computer. This leads to increased tear evaporation which can be treated.
  • Tear production is affected by many medications, including antidepressants, over-the-counter allergy pills, and even birth control pills.
  • Alcohol and caffeine make dry eyes worse, as does inadequate water intake and poor diet
  • The majority of Dry Eye symptoms are due to underlying eyelid disease (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction) which can be treated.
  • Our dry climate encourages the growth of eyelid mites (Demodex folliculorum) that harbour bacteria. The resulting inflammation cuases dry, red and itchy eyes. These mite infestations can be treated.

Diagnostic Testing for Dry Eye Disease

If you suffer from dry eyes, we need to accurately treat the root cause to provide long term symptomatic relief. We will schedule a comprehensive work-up that includes an in-depth history and the following diagnostic testing:

  • Meibography – infrared imaging of the eyelids to assess the structure of the oil glands
  • Tear osmolarity – sampling the tears to see how dilute or concentrated they are
  • SM Tube – measuring the tear production volume
  • NIKBUT – measuring the stability of the tear film and how quickly they break up
  • Biomicroscopy – looking for signs of chronic inflammation, blockage of glands, structural changes, mites or bacteria, and numerous other pathologies.

These clinical tests will allow us to accurately diagnose the type of dry eye so we can target evidence based treatments that are most effective for your unique dry eye profile.

Dry Eye Disease Treatment

We will then create a customized plan for you to follow. This may include any of the following:

  • Possible medication including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and/or topical drugs such as cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra).
  • Autologous serum or platelet-rich plasma containing drops that are made from your own blood which contains biological compounds to reduce inflammation and promote healing
  • Punctal plugs – silicone plugs placed in the drainage openings of the lower eyelid to retain more moisture on the surface of the eye
  • Moisture goggles or scleral contact lenses (see video below) to provide a moisture barrier that prevents tear evaporation
  • Unpreserved lubricant eye drops specific to your type of dry eye (evaporative, aqueous deficient, or inflammatory)
  • At-home eyelid hygiene regimen including warm compresses, lid massage, and/or lid wipes/shampoos. This is often discussed alongside proper makeup application/removal practices
  • Blinking exercises, discussion of proper breaks when reading/using computer for long periods, environmental modification
  • Nutrition counseling, including omega-3 supplementation
  • A change in contact lens modality, material, and/or solution care system

In office treatments

If indicated, we offer the latest technology in-office treatments to treat specific causes of dry eye. Your customized treatment plan may include any of the following:

Blephex – treatment of lid disease by removal of keratinized (hardened) tissue and biofilm from the lid margin. This includes removal of bacteria harboring mites called Demodex.

i-lux – a new treatment proven to stimulate healthy tear production from plugged and poorly functioning meibomian glands in your eyelids (see video below)

NEW: Radio frequency (RF) treatment to melt obstructions in the meibomian glands and tighten the skin around the eyelid area. This treatment can also be modified for aesthetic purposes to reduce the appearance of crows feet, wrinkles, and bags under the eyes. Click here to learn more about Radio Frequency RF treatments.

NEW: BostonSight SCLERAL – a type of rigid gas permeable contact lens that forms a moisture barrier on the cornea, protecting it from dehydrating.

At your follow-up visit(s), the treatment plan will be modified based on improvement of signs and symptoms. Although there may be a cost associated with any in-office treatments, they are often health spending account eligible.  Our goal is to treat the underlying cause of your Dry Eye Disease to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable over the long term.