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. We now have treatments such as IPL (Intense Pulsed Light), RF (Radio-frequency), blephex, and i-lux, all of which have proven effective in treating the root causes of dry eye disease. Our doctors have special interest in the treatment of Dry Eyes and we have invested in the latest diagnostic and treatment technologies to ensure we have the best tools to treat the disease. We customize treatments that are evidence based to give you long term relief of your dry eye symptoms.

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 – This dry eye procedure is used to remove biofilm and demodex mites from the eyelash base, as well as dead and hardened tissue from the eyelid surface. This effectively removes much of the source of inflammation and restores a healthy eyelid margin that more effectively produces and distributes good quality tears.

i-lux – This dry eye procedure clears the inflammatory material from plugged oil-producing glands in the eyelids, stimulating proper oil production and restoring a healthy tear film with less tear evaporation.

Radio frequency (RF) : This dry eye procedure requires 3-4 initial treatments which use subdermal heat to clear obstructed glands and stimulate collagen and elastin production. This improves the longer term function and health of the oil-producing eyelid glands, ultimately restoring a healthy tear film with less tear evaporation. This has been used for years in dermatology and aesthetics as it also reduces fine lines and eyelid wrinkles!. Learn more about our i-spa esthetics RF treatments if they may be right for you.

IPL – Intense pulsed light: This well studied dry eye treatment uses high intensity light to shrink inflamed blood vessels in and around the eyelids and face. Requiring 3-4 sessions, this procedure is extremely effective for facial and ocular rosacea and is also used in our i-spa esthetics clinic to improve skin tone and reduce uneven skin pigmentation.

Punctal Plugs – These dry eye devices, made of a long-lasting medical plastic, are placed in the eyes’ tear drainage ducts and designed to stay in the eye for years but can be removed at any time. They reduce the rate of tear drainage from the eyes’ surface, thus keeping them more moist and reducing the frequency at which artificial tear drops need to be instilled.

BostonSight SCLERAL – a type of large diameter rigid gas permeable contact lens that forms a moisture barrier on the cornea, protecting it from dehydrating. Scleral lenses for dry eye are used when other therapies fail or if contact lenses are desired for vision correction in the presence of dry eye disease.

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.