The Danger Of Dry, Gritty Eyes

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Do you ever find that your eyes are dry and feel kind of gritty? It could be the result of a serious problem known as Meibomian Gland Disease, otherwise known as clogged eye lid glands.

“This is something that effects millions and millions of people and is reaching epidemic proportions,” according to Dr. Norman Herskovich with Elite Family Eye Care in Fort Lauderdale.

Dr. Herskovich diagnosed CBS4 reporter Ted Scouten with it. He’s the same doctor that diagnosed Ted last year with eye mites which contributed to his eye lid glands clogging, meaning he’s not releasing enough oil to properly lubricate his eyes.

During his exam, Dr. Herskovich and an assistant got a close look at Ted’s eyelid by pulling it back and displaying it on a screen.

“Ted does, unfortunately, have some damage,” said Dr. Herskovich. “It is, to a certain extent, not surprising because he did have a diagnosis last year of certain ocular conditions that did effect his eye lids.”

Making matters worse, Scouten doesn’t blink correctly, meaning his upper and lower lids don’t actually touch enough, to squeeze out oil.  That’s another contributing factor to clogged eye lid glands.

“Ted is not blinking properly,” Herskovich realized. “But he’s actually not aware, most of us aren’t.  Herskovich analyzed Scouten’s blink pattern with a special piece of equipment. “Every time you see a yellow box the computer shows a person is not physically closing his or he eyes properly,” he explained.

Dr. Herskovich says improper blinking is a huge problem with kids because their eyes are glued to cell phones and computer screens so they don’t blink enough.

“When children are basically being raised right now to look at electronics and video games and stare at all these devices and they don’t blink as well as they should,” he said. “Essentially you want to stare at something and blink normally 15 to 20 times a minute.”

Here’s the fix, it’s called the “LipiFlow Procedure.”  It’s a 12-minute procedure which applies heat and pressure to the inner eyelids.

“What we’re doing is melting the oil,” explained Dr. Herskovich. “By melting it, you literally right now are returning it to a liquid state and not totally unlike squeezing a tube of toothpaste, we are applying pressure to force the oil to come out of the glands.”

There is a treatment for Scouten and others with this condition. Dr. Herskovich says if he didn’t have the treatment, the condition would not get better on its own, only progressively worse.  And he warns once the glands die, there’s no bringing them back to life. “In this case, what you don’t know can and will hurt you.”

Dr. Herskovich recommends patients speak to their eye doctor about Meibomian Gland Disease. He says once it’s corrected patients should concentrate on blinking correctly and using doctor prescribed eye lid hygiene products to keep the eyelids clean of damaging bacteria.

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