Our eyes need tears to stay healthy and comfortable. If your eyes do not produce enough tears, it is called dry eye. Dry eye disease is a multi-factor disease that affects an estimated 25 million people in the United States alone. It is one of the most common reasons that people visit their eye care professional.

Diagnosing Dry EyeHow do tears work?TearLab Osmolarity TestWhy is it important to diagnose and treat dry eye disease?How will having the TearLab test benefit you? What is MGD?What is LipiView®?

Diagnosing Dry Eye

The increasing prevalence of dry eye disease is why Clemson Eye strives to be a Dry Center of excellence. As such, our staff is trained to provide the highest quality of dry eye care using advanced diagnostic techniques and treatments. There are multiple kinds of tests used to approximate the level of dry eye disease a patient may have. But we use what we believe to be the best and most accurate: the LipiView and TearLab test.

How do tears work?

When you blink, a film of tears spreads over the eye. This keeps the eye’s surface smooth and clear. The tear film is important for good vision. The tear film is made of three layers:
  • An oily layer
  • A watery layer
  • A mucus layer
Each layer of the tear film serves a purpose. The oily layer is the outside of the tear film. It makes the tear surface smooth and keeps tears from drying up too quickly. This layer is made in the eye’s meibomian glands. The watery layer is the middle of the tear film. It makes up most of what we see as tears. This layer cleans the eye, washing away particles that do not belong in the eye. This layer comes from the lacrimal glands in the eyelids. The mucus layerstrong> is the inner layer of the tear film. This helps spread the watery layer over the eye’s surface, keeping it moist. Without mucus, tears would not stick to the eye. Mucus is made in the conjunctiva. This is the clear tissue covering the white of your eye and inside your eyelids. Normally, our eyes constantly make tears to stay moist. If our eyes are irritated, or we cry, our eyes make a lot of tears. But, sometimes the eyes don’t make enough tears or something affects one or more layers of the tear film. In those cases, we end up with dry eyes.

TearLab Osmolarity Test

One of the latest devices in dry eye technology is the TearLab Osmolarity System. By using TearLab, we can quickly and painlessly measure a small sample of a patient’s tears to determine how dry they truly are. TearLab is the first objective and quantitative test for diagnosing and managing dry eye patients. Using the slightest nanoliter of tear fluid, the osmolarity data allows us to understand the ‘level’ of disease – is it mild, moderate or severe dry eye you’re experiencing. Your tear number also allows us to determine the best treatment for you. How will the test be performed? The TearLab osmolarity test uses a pen designed to hold the test card and facilitate pain-free, simple tear fluid collection. Using a mechanical, electrical interface, the pen conveys data to the TearLab reader automatically when docked. About the TearLab Osmolarity Test The TearLab measures the salt content in your eyes and is the gold standard for objectively diagnosing dry eye disease. Your specific osmolarity number is generated by TearLab’s ‘lab on a chip technology’. This unique number helps your doctor determine whether you have dry eye disease, and if so, whether you fall into the mild, moderate or severe category.

Why is it important to diagnose and treat dry eye disease?

For some, dry eye symptoms such as itchy, burning, stinging eyes may seem like a mere nuisance. However, if left untreated, dry eye disease can have serious consequences including:
  • Permanent corneal scarring
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Increased susceptibility to eye infections

How will having the TearLab test benefit you?

  • Expect fast and accurate results using only 50 nanoliters of tear film to diagnose dry eye disease.
  • The osmolarity data allows your eye doctor and you to understand your individual level of disease.
  • The ability to compare and track osmolarity results at different stages of the disease aids in your dry eye treatment.

What is MGD?

  • MGD (Meibomian gland dysfunction) is one of the most common diseases observed in clinics and is the leading cause of evaporative dry eye.
  • MGD occurs when the protective oil that normally flows from the eyelid glands slows or stops. Over time, blockage and structural damage of the glands occurs.The oil acts as the front line of protection for the tears and lubricates the surface of the eyes when you blink.
  • When these glands are not healthy, it causes the tear film to rapidly evaporate, leaving the eye’s surface exposed. This exposure can cause discomfort that increases over time and impacts quality of vision, which can result in irritating dry eye symptoms.

What is LipiView®?

  • LipiView® is a non-invasive device that is used to get an accurate digital picture of a patient’s tear film and used to measure the lipid content and quality.
  • LipiView® is a standard eye examination procedure that provides proper diagnosis, helping the eye doctor arrive at a more verifiable conclusion, whether the patient will need a Lipiflow procedure or must undergo other dry eye therapy treatments intended for curing anyone with dry eye condition.

Treating Dry Eye

If you have dry eyes, many different treatments are available to maintain moist and healthy eyes. Your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan that is right for you.

Environmental Changes

Mild dry eyes can often be improved by making simple changes in your surroundings. One of the most common problems is air blowing in your face, which can evaporate your tears faster than your eye can make them. Don’t sit directly in front of a heating or air-conditioning vent at home or at work, and in the car, make sure these vents are not aimed directly into your face. Shield your eyes when using a blow dryer. If you smoke, you should seriously consider quitting, because smoking also aggravates dry eyes.


LipiFlow® is a cutting edge treatment for Evaporative Dry Eye. LipiFlow® is a thermal eyelid massage that applies consistent, comfortable heat to your eyelids. It also provides gentle, pulsating pressure to your eyelids to massage out the liquefied blockages of your meibomian glands. The LipiFlow® Activator is inserted under your lower and upper eye lid. It is shaped to prevent contact with the cornea, or front surface of your eye. Once in place, you simply recline in the treatment chair for the procedure.

Omega-3s / Fish Oil Supplements

Omega-3s found in fish have been shown to greatly support dry eye relief, along with their many other health benefits.

Not all omega-3s are created equal, which is why we recommend PRN supplements to our patients. Physician-recommended nutraceutical PRN is specifically formulated to address dry eye and proven to improve its symptoms.

Clinical research has shown that after 8 weeks of treatment, 82% of patients using PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits had a positive change in normalizing their tears.

PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits capsules or liquid both address symptoms from inside the body instead of outside. The effects are similar to when you eat omega-3 rich foods, like fish.

Four capsules per day or one teaspoon of PRN equates to consuming 37 cans of tuna a week. Also, note that you may need to take anywhere from two-to-10 times the amount of a drug store omega-3 supplement to get the same therapeutic benefit delivered in just one serving of PRN, so these supplements are good for your eye health and wallet.

Talk to your Clemson Eye doctor about the advantages of PRN Dry Eye Omega Benefits in treating dry eye. PRN is part of our affordable “Dry Eye Kit”.

Lid and Lash Cleansers

OCuSOFT is an excellent solution for lid and lash hygiene. It is designed for patients with chronic dry eye, blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). OCuSOFT is intended for cleaning and removing foreign material and debris from the application site including microorganisms, immediate care of minor irritations to the skin, cleansing minor cuts, minor scrapes and minor burns.

It’s estimated that 10% to 20% of Americans suffer from Dry Eye Syndrome. In addition, approximately 23 million Americans chronically suffer from inflammation of the eyelids, known as blepharitis. Another 13 million struggle with the debilitating condition of meibomian gland dysfunction (“MGD”).

Well-tolerated and easy to use, OCuSOFT also acts as a preventive measure, and can be incorporated into a patient’s daily lid and lash hygiene regimen.

Dry Eye Kits

Clemson Eye offers a “Dry Eye Kit” at an affordable price. Since it takes 3 months of use to see results, we encourage purchasing 3 bottles/kits. The kits include a two-month supply of:

  • PRN (Omega 3 vitamins)
  • OCuSOFT HypoChlor (prescription-strength lid and lash cleanser)

Dosage: 4 PRN pills per day, and 1 spritz of OCuSoft per eye morning and night.

This kit is also useful for all our eye surgery patients. It is available at an introductory price of $75, saving you at least $25 on retail costs.

Tear Replacement Therapy

If environmental changes and/or Omega-3 supplements don’t restore your eyes’ moisture level, many over-the-counter eye drops – called artificial tears – are available. These drops are highly effective in soothing dry eyes for most people, but they must be used frequently — often 4-6 times a day — to maintain constant moisture throughout the day.

Artificial tears are available in multi-dose bottles and in single-dose vials. The bottles are easier to handle and contain preservatives so that the tears won’t spoil before you use the whole bottle. Some people develop allergies to the preservatives if they use the drops more than 3-4 times a day. The single-dose vials do not contain preservatives, and are recommended for anyone who needs to use the drops more than 3-4 times a day.

These products can be purchased without a prescription in any supermarket or drug store. When electing for artificial tear products, talk to your Clemson Eye doctor before choosing an over-the-counter medication, as some can actually make your condition worse.

Punctal Plugs

You have a tear duct in the inner corner of each eyelid (upper and lower). Artificial tears can make your eyes feel better but you have to use them often. A Clemson Eye doctor can put a small plug in the tear duct opening, called the punctum, to prevent your tears from draining away.

By making your tears last longer, you may maintain eye moisture with fewer tears overall. This simple procedure can be done in the office in just a minute or two, is painless, and if you don’t like them, they can be removed just as easily. Note there is a cost to the surgical procedure and occasionally the plugs may fall out.

Prescription Medications

A prescription medication called cyclosporin is available to help relieve dry eye symptoms. Cyclosporin helps your tear glands produce more tears, but with some trade-offs. The medication is more expensive than other treatments for dry eyes and may sting or burn.

Remember, your Clemson Eye doctor can help you develop a dry eye treatment plan that is right for you.

Call for a Dry Eye Test

If you’ve been experiencing recurring dry eye symptoms including: itching, burning and discomfort, be sure to schedule a TearLab test with us. Clemson Eye specializes in diagnosing and treating dry eye syndrome.
For your comprehensive dry eye examination, please call us 855‑654‑2020 (toll-free).

For more information call 855-654-2020 today or click here to schedule an appointment.