The Intersection Between Dry Eye and COVID-19

Dry Eye & COVID-19 in Los Angeles

Stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19 mean that we are spending more time than ever using digital devices. Screen time has increased exponentially with the recent reliance on electronic learning, remote work and binge-watching Netflix. This increase in screen time has uncomfortable implications on one of the most sensitive areas of the body: our eyes. Laser Eye Center has seen an uptick in patients reporting dry eye symptoms. Read on to learn what we are doing to ease their discomfort.

Dry Eye During a Pandemic

In a normal, healthy eye, the meibomian glands of the eyelids produce and secrete oils that help the tears “stick” to the surface of the eyes so the eyes stay lubricated. The act of blinking helps the oils coat the eye’s surface, preventing tears from evaporating too quickly.

Blink rate naturally slows down when spending prolonged periods of time on computers, smartphones or television screens. Less blinking means the oils no longer spread over the surface of the eyes as they should. The meibomian glands that normally produce these oils can become blocked or clogged with thickened secretions. As a result, tears evaporate rapidly and evaporative dry eye takes hold.

If you have developed dry eye disease, you may experience an unrelenting burning or stinging sensation. Your eyes may be sensitive to light or you may feel as though something is perpetually stuck in your eyes. Left untreated, these symptoms will continue to worsen, especially since dry eye is a chronic and progressive disease. Severe cases of untreated dry eye can eventually lead to blurred vision or even vision loss. If the meibomian glands remain blocked or clogged, they can eventually atrophy and die, making the problem non-reversible.

Pursuing treatment for dry eye symptoms is more important than ever. Although there are still questions about the transmission of COVID-19, experts believe that it can be spread by touching an infected surface and then touching your eyes without washing your hands. Addressing the root cause of dry eye is paramount to avoid catching COVID-19 when rubbing or touching irritated eyes.

Lasting Relief From Dry Eye Symptoms

At Laser Eye Center, our team offers iLux, a convenient in-office treatment for dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. This drug-free, drop-free procedure combines the application of therapeutic heat and gentle massage to safely melt and “express” thickened oils from the glands. This restores the normal production and secretion of oil for a healthy tear film.

The entire iLux treatment process can be completed in less than 10 minutes and has been described as a warm massage for the eyelids. Similar to a deep cleaning at a dentist’s office, the effects last six to eight months on average, with the duration largely a function of the aftercare effort that a patient chooses to put in. As a result of the treatment, the tear film’s health improves by over 50 percent within the first two weeks, peaking at as much as an 80 percent improvement at the four-week mark!

In a time when doctors are adamant about the risks of touching or rubbing your eyes, access to safe, effective treatment for dry eye disease is vital. To find out more about iLux and whether it is right for you, please call (800) 805-2737or email Laser Eye Center today.