More than 20 million Americans suffer from dry eyes. There are many different causes and levels of dryness. While some dryness can be temporary, some can be longer long lying. Often times, dryness can occur with people that sit at a computer all day long. When our eyes are focused on one thing for long periods of time, less blinking occurs. But when you look away from the computer, or go on your lunch break, the dryness often goes away. Others experience a more severe form of dry eyes, that does not come from staring at a screen. Eighty-six percent of people with dry eyes suffer from evaporative dry eye, which is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction and a lipid deficiency of the eye's natural tear film. Depending on the level of dryness and the cause of it, there are different eye care approaches.
The first and easiest approach is eye drops. The most common types are used for fast relief and can range anywhere from $ 5 to $ 8. The higher performance lubricants can range anywhere from $ 10 – $ 15. Over the counter drops or medicated drops can go as high as $ 60. Depending on the severity of your dry eye symptoms, and how often you need to re-lubricate your eyes, this can be pricey if you're going through a few bottles a week.
In some cases, where there is a lipid deficiency and blinking does not provide any lubrication, there are some methods to reduce the blockage of the meibomian gland.
Some people opt for goggles that are designed to provide a humid environment while moisturizing the sensitive skin around the eye. They generally come with moisture pads or gels, that are placed into the goggles, and then worn anywhere from 20-45 minutes which stimulates tear production and the release of lubricating oils. These goggles cost about $ 50 and have reusable pads that cost about $ 25 for 50 or so uses.
If these do not work, there is a somewhat new alternative called Lipiflow that has been around since 2011. It is a cutting edge treatment for Evaporative Dry Eye . Lipiflow is a thermal eyelid massage. It applies consistent, comfortable heat to your eyelids with a gentle pulsating pressure that massages out the liquefied blockages of your meibomian glands. This treatment costs about $ 1,400, or $ 700 per eye.
The painless procedure lasts about 12 minutes and can reduce the blockage for nearly 12 months. The degree of success varies on the severity of the blockage, but in 79% of patients, they've seen a 10-100% improvement. (According to Caleyecare.org)