Dry eye is ultimately the dysfunction of the tear film. The tear film is a complex system that is comprised of the:
- Mucin layer: this mucous layer provides a “sticky” foundation and acts as a barrier to the eye surface
- Aqueous layer: this “watery” layer is produced by the lacrimal glands and provides moisture to the eye
- Lipid layer: this “oily” layer is produced by the meibomian glands and prevents the tears from evaporating
Each component needs to work in balance and harmony to keep the tear film stable. When you have an imbalance in these layers, the vision and comfort of your eyes are affected. Our doctor will evaluate what is causing the disruption in your tear film that makes you suffer from dry eye.
If you imagine the tear film like you would building a house:
- the mucin layer is the foundation
- the aqueous layer is the beams
- the lipid layer is the roof
When you have dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), your glands are clogged and are not producing enough lipid layer, meaning your roof has been compromised. With holes in your roof, you can’t maintain stable temperature in your house. Cool or hot air would escape out.
As such, when your lipid layer is compromised, your tears evaporate too quickly. You have to fix the roof (the lipid layer) for the house (the tear film) to be structurally sound and for you to live comfortably.