Managing Dry Eye: The Latest in Dry Eye Treatment


  • Conventional dry eye treatment methods offer temporary relief but don’t address underlying causes.
  • The latest dry eye treatments focus on personalized, targeted therapies, including next-generation artificial tears and autologous serum eye drops.
  • Cutting-edge technologies like OCT and IPL therapy aid in accurate diagnosis and targeted treatment.
  • Optometrists can help incorporate cutting-edge dry eye therapies into their practice by focusing on patient education and collaborative treatment.

Dry eye disease (DED) affects approximately 16.4 million people across the United States and, if left uncontrolled, can result in severe complications, including scarring and corneal ulcers. Conventional dry eye treatment typically involves managing symptoms by restoring the tear film and reducing inflammation. However, emerging treatments for dry eye take a more personalized approach to eye care.

Traditional Dry Eye Treatment Methods: Limitations and Challenges

In the past, optometrists typically relied on conventional dry eye treatment options for managing the condition, including artificial tears and warm compresses. Lifestyle changes for dry eye treatment, like minimizing screen time and managing humidity in the home, are also often prescribed. However, these approaches typically only offer temporary relief from dry eye symptoms and do not address the underlying issues causing the condition.

Traditional approaches also often fail to address the individualized nature of dry eye. Factors such as age, overall health, medications, environmental conditions, and even personal habits can influence the development and severity of dry eye symptoms.

To overcome the challenges associated with dry eye management, optometrists must acknowledge these limitations and explore new, innovative strategies

Emerging Pharmaceutical Treatments

Over-the-counter dry eye treatments like drops and artificial tears are often formulated to increase hydration and overlook other components of the tear film, including growth factors and enzymes that play a crucial role in supporting homeostasis. Several innovative therapies address the underlying causes of dry eye and provide more targeted relief for patients.

Prescription Dry Eye Treatments

The latest dry eye treatments include prescription eye drops specifically formulated for managing dry eye. These drops use advanced ingredients and technologies to combat the multifactorial nature of the condition.

Anti-inflammatory agents, such as cyclosporine and lifitegrast, help reduce ocular surface inflammation, a major contributor to dry eye symptoms. The results of a 2022 study on Lifitegrast Ophthalmic Solution (Xiidra®) found that participants using the Xiidra® solution had fewer DED symptoms, such as blurred vision, ocular burning, and headache, after 3, 6, and 12 months of treatment.

proportion of patients with DED-related treatments

Proportion of patients with DED-related treatments in the 6-month pre-index period and added to Lifitegrast in the post-index period (Source)

Tear film stabilizers, like hyaluronic acid and phospholipids, improve tear film stability and retention, providing long-lasting relief. A 2021 meta-analysis found that hyaluronic acid (HA) eye drops result in higher Schirmer’s (SH) test scores and increased tear breakup times (TBUT). This demonstrated a dramatic increase in treatment efficacy compared with non-HA eye drops.

Novel Therapeutic Agents

In addition to prescription eye drops, researchers are actively exploring novel therapeutic agents that target specific pathways involved in dry eye. One promising approach focuses on modulating inflammation, as chronic inflammation plays a significant role in dry eye pathogenesis. New drugs targeting pro-inflammatory molecules and signaling pathways show potential in reducing ocular surface inflammation and providing sustained relief.

A 2022 study on mouse models of DED found that topically administering Link_TSG6 reduced corneal epithelial defects in DED mice while increasing the density of conjunctival goblet cells and boosting tear production. Link_TSG6 is a polypeptide protein excreted by the TNFAIP6 gene that suppresses inflammation.

Advancements in Ocular Surface Treatments

placing eyedrops in an eye

The ocular surface is pivotal in maintaining healthy vision, and advancements in ocular surface treatments have revolutionized the management of dry eye syndrome. Two innovative approaches have garnered attention in recent years: next-generation artificial tear formulations and therapeutic interventions utilizing autologous serum eye drops and amniotic membrane transplantation.

Next-Generation Artificial Tear Formulations

Conventional artificial tears provide temporary relief for dry eye symptoms. However, their composition often falls short of mimicking the complex structure and functions of the natural tear film.

Next-generation artificial tear formulations have been developed to closely resemble the composition of natural tears. These innovative formulations incorporate lipids, mucins, and electrolytes, promoting tear stability, lubrication, and ocular surface protection.

A 2023 systematic review compared the efficacy of various artificial tears formulas in patients with DED. The review found that artificial tears containing polyethylene glycol were more effective than those containing hydroxypropyl methylcellulose and carboxymethylcellulose. It also found that patients with evaporative DED benefit from high-concentration artificial tears with liposomal delivery systems.

By better matching the natural tear film, these novel tear substitutes offer the potential for enhanced patient outcomes, longer-lasting relief, and improved ocular surface health.

Autologous Serum Eye Drops

In severe cases of DED where traditional dry eye remedies may prove insufficient, autologous serum eye drops and amniotic membrane transplantation have shown promising therapeutic results.

Autologous serum eye drops are derived from a patient’s blood and contain growth factors like epidermal growth factor (EGF), transforming growth factor-b (TGF-b), vitamin A, lysozyme, and fibronectin that promote healing and rejuvenation of the ocular surface.

These drops can potentially manage severe dry eye by relieving symptoms and improving corneal health. Their personalized nature makes them a valuable treatment modality for patients who have not responded well to conventional therapies.

Amniotic Membrane Transplantation

Amniotic membrane transplantation offers a unique biological scaffold that aids in the healing process, providing a favorable environment for corneal tissue repair and regeneration. The transplantation involves using the innermost layer of the amniotic membrane to promote tissue regeneration and reduce inflammation on the ocular surface.

This technique has proven to effectively treat conditions associated with ocular surface damage, such as persistent corneal epithelial defects and chronic inflammation.

A 2020 review reported that across several studies involving 121 eyes in 103 patients, cryopreserved amniotic membranes (PROKERA) had a high success rate for treating DED. Following treatment, the overall severity of DED significantly decreased from DEWS Level 3 to DEWS Level 1 at one and three months. Corneal staining decreased from an average of 2.2 at the beginning to 0.5 by the three-month mark.

Also, tear film breakup time improved from eight seconds initially to 15 seconds after three months. These positive effects were associated with increased corneal nerve density and corneal sensitivity.

Cutting-Edge Technologies Revolutionizing Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment

Advanced dry eye therapy uses several cutting-edge technologies that are revolutionizing the field. These advancements are enabling precise dry eye assessment and introducing innovative treatment modalities.

Advanced Diagnostic Tools

anterior segment

Anterior segment optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan Source

State-of-art technologies have enhanced optometrists’ ability to assess dry eye conditions accurately. Imaging techniques such as anterior segment optical coherence tomography (OCT) and meibography provide detailed visualization of the tear film and meibomian gland structure, allowing clinicians to evaluate tear film quality and meibomian gland function.

These tools offer valuable insights into the underlying causes of dry eye and aid in developing targeted treatment plans. Additionally, point-of-care testing devices, like the i-Pen Tear Osmolarity System and RPS Inflammation Analyzer, have gained popularity for quick and accurate dry eye diagnosis, measuring tear osmolarity, inflammation markers, and other relevant parameters at the point of patient care.

Innovative Treatment Modalities

Several cutting-edge treatment modalities have emerged to address different aspects of dry eye syndrome.

  • LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System. This system uses thermal therapy to target evaporative dry eye by applying controlled heat and gentle pressure to the eyelids. The device helps clear obstructions in the meibomian glands, promoting normal glandular function and restoring the integrity of the tear film.
  • Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy. IPL therapy has shown promising results in managing meibomian gland dysfunction and associated inflammation. A 2020 review found that after the first IPL treatment, meibomian gland dysfunction symptoms notably improved. Patients also experienced improvements in eyelid margin signs, meibomian gland secretion quality, expressibility, tear stability, and decreased inflammation.
  • IPL uses specific wavelengths of light (typically between 500 nm and 1,200 nm) to treat the root causes of dry eye by targeting abnormal blood vessels, eradicating Demodex to reduce bacterial load, and reducing inflammation in the eyelids. This non-invasive and well-tolerated procedure may improve meibomian gland function and alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Incorporating Breakthrough Therapies into Optometric Practice

older couple laughing

Adapting to the latest treatment modalities can help optometrists provide their patients with cutting-edge care. However, implementing new patient care strategies can be challenging for many practices due to increased equipment requirements, additional professional training, and patient reluctance to try novel therapies.

Incorporating breakthrough therapies into optometry practices requires an integrated optometry practice management system like RevolutionEHR to support their treatment efforts. RevolutionEHR provides streamlined workflows and simplified documentation, allowing you and your staff to focus on effective patient education and engagement.

Your practice can use RevConnect, a patient engagement software within RevolutionEHR, to simplify communication and track interactions for optimal treatment outcomes. RevConnect offers a range of features, including appointment and recall reminders, personalized messages, and optical order status updates.

It also provides a seamless way to connect with patients through text and email, ensuring important information reaches them quickly. With RevConnect Campaigns, you can harness the power of RevolutionEHR’s Reports module to create and send targeted messages to dry eye disease patients.

Whether notifying patients about new DED diagnostic tools or sharing information about updated treatment protocols, RevConnect Campaigns makes it easy to reach specific patient groups with tailored messages.

Improve Your Patients’ Eye Health

Contact a RevolutionEHR Specialist to book a demo today and learn how integrated practice management software gives you the freedom to focus on incorporating the latest dry eye disease treatments into your practice to provide better vision for your patients.

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