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What Can Optometrists Do for Dry Eye Treatments?

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Reflecting side by side of a woman's face showing a dry irritated eye on the left and a normal eye on the right.

If your eyes are constantly irritated and you feel like something is stuck inside them no matter how much you rub, you may have dry eye disease.

Although dry eye can be painful, it’s also manageable if you understand what’s causing your dry eye. If left untreated, dry eye can reduce your quality of life, so it’s important to schedule a comprehensive eye exam with your optometrist to discuss your dry eye symptoms.

What is Dry Eye Disease?

Dry eyes are a fairly common condition that can result in discomfort and even vision loss. Tears are constantly produced by the eye to reduce friction and keep vision sharp. Some people are unable to produce tears normally or their tears evaporate too quickly to properly moisturize the eye.

Tear instability causes inflammation and damage to the eye’s surface. Your eyes may sting, burn, or itch. Other signs of dry eye disease are:

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Eye redness
  • A feeling that something is in your eyes
  • Wearing contact lenses may be difficult
  • Eye strain or blurred vision

Three layers make up the tear film: fatty oils, watery fluid, and mucus. This combination normally keeps the surface of your eyes lubricated, smooth, and clear, but any of these layers can be the source of dry eyes.

What Happens if You Don’t Treat Your Dry Eye?

It may seem as though dry eyes are just a minor inconvenience. You can deal with it even though your eyes are constantly irritated and red because you can still see, right?

Sadly, dry eye is a condition that gets worse over time. Therefore, if dry eyes are not treated, they will only worsen. A severe case of untreated dry eye may have the following effects on you:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Keratitis
  • Trouble reading or driving
  • Trouble wearing contact lenses

What Can Optometrists Do for Dry Eye?

Dry eye assessments can begin with a thorough eye exam so that your eye doctor can fully understand your eye health and any underlying causes of your dry eye. They may also perform a slit lamp test or a Schirmer’s test to assess the quality and quantity of your tears.

Additionally, there are treatments that your optometrist can perform to reduce the symptoms of dry eye disease including:

  • BlephEx Treatment
  • Eyelid Cleansers
  • Meibomian Gland Expression
  • LipiFlow
  • Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)
  • iLux

BlephEx Treatment

BlephEx is a painless procedure performed in-office by your optometrist that helps reduce or alleviate dry eye symptoms.

This treatment eliminates the bacteria and toxins that live along the lash margins and cause inflammation and disease. Your optometrist carefully spins the medical-grade disposable micro-sponge along the edge of the eyelids and lashes with the BlephEx handpiece.

A BlephEx treatment takes 6 to 8 minutes to remove scurf (surface flakes), discard debris, and exfoliate the eyelids.

Eyelid Cleansers

Eyelid cleansers can aid in the maintenance of clean eyelids and clear meibomian glands. These cleansers aid in the removal of oil, debris, pollen, and other contaminants from the eyelid area.

Meibomian Gland Expression

Following thermal heating of the glands, the doctor manually expresses the upper and lower meibomian glands to allow secretions to flow more easily. This keeps the glands from clogging, as well as clearing clogged glands.


Your doctor will use this device to massage your lids gently with heat and pressure to improve the quality of your eye oil and open your meibomian glands. The heating element of the apparatus resembles a large lens that covers even the whites of the eyes.

Additionally, an eyecup with an inflatable air bladder massages both the upper and lower lids throughout the procedure.

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)

IPL therapy works by combating meibomian gland dysfunction, reducing Demodex mites, fighting inflammation, and concentrating on abnormal blood vessels.

Intense pulses of visible and infrared light are applied to the eyelids during IPL treatment. Each treatment lasts about 20 minutes. To achieve long-term results, multiple treatment sessions are usually scheduled about a month apart.


iLux is a handheld device that heats and gently presses the eyelids to open up blocked meibomian glands. This facilitates the glands’ natural release of oil, which is critical for a high-quality tear film.

The device features a specially designed eyelid smart tip that gently delivers treatment directly to the clogged glands while protecting the eye’s surface. With iLux, your dry eye doctor has complete control over the therapeutic effect.

Make an Appointment for Dry Eye Therapy

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Bettner Vision, we can investigate what is causing your dry eyes, assess your tear production, and provide you with the knowledge you need to manage the disease properly.

We use cutting-edge dry eye management technology to treat your symptoms while also addressing the underlying causes.

Written by Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

Dr. Christopher Bettner has been serving the optometric needs of Colorado Springs since 1995. He is trained in ocular pathology with an emphasis in the treatment and management of ocular disease, including diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, and pre- and post-operative care.

More Articles By Dr. Christopher Bettner, OD

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