I get to spend a lot of time in OD practices talking about dry eye disease (DED). Many of these practices already do a lot for their dry eye patients, but many seem to fall into one camp or the other.
There are two types of dry eye disease, evaporative dry eye (EDE) and aqueous tear deficiency (ATD).
Related: Creating a dry eye protocol
Many ODs seem to believe that the majority of their dry eye patients fall into one category or another and can be fanatical in this belief. Studies have shown EDE to be most common, but have also shown that over one-third have combined ATD and EDE.1
When cyclosporine (Restasis, Allergan) was introduced, many doctors hopped on the ATD bandwagon. With the release of the Tear Film & Ocular Society meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) report, the thinking was that all dry eye is evaporative and the pendulum swung all the way over to the other side.
What are the differences?
Typically, ATD can be diagnosed by low tear volume and production and hyperosmolarity. It is managed with:
• Artificial tears
• Punctal plugs
Evaporative dry eye can be diagnosed by tear film break-up time and compromised meibomian glands. It may be treated with:
• Hot compresses
• Meibomian gland expression
• Fish oil
• Lipid-based artificial tears
There are some commonalities among both types. In my opinion, inflammation is the most obvious. There is a device that can now measure for matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), an inflammatory biomarker. I have found this very useful in diagnosis, treating, and following for treatment success.