A Beginners Guide to Mechanical Dry Eye

A Beginners Guide to Mechanical Dry Eye
You may have recently heard about or been diagnosed with mechanical dry eye, and wondered exactly what it is and what makes it different from other types of dry eye issues.  If you are curious, you aren’t alone. Although it is estimated that this age-related disorder may affect 98% of patients that are 60 years or older, this chronic condition is not well known and is often overlooked or misdiagnosed.

Discover mechanical dry eye and what it may mean for you in this “eye-opening” article.

What is Mechanical Dry Eye

Mechanical Dry Eye (MDE) is a common age-related disorder, that, as you may have guessed, affects your eyes.

Much like an engine, the parts of your eye work together to stay healthy, lubricated, and function well. To understand Mechanical Dry Eye, you first need to understand a few different parts of the eye and how they work together.

Your eyeball is covered by a clear membrane called the conjunctiva.  It seems that MDE can cause unneeded folds to appear in this membrane. The science on why these folds appear is still under debate.  However, what does seem clear is that these “extra folds” can in turn affect the mechanical function of the affected eye.

The tear film, or lacrimal layer, is a thin film of fluid that covers the surface of the eye, including the conjunctiva.  Most of us are not aware of its existence. It is transparent and very thin. The main job of the tear film is to act as a barrier, to keep the eye moist, and prevent your tears from quickly evaporating. However, when this film is made unstable, which can happen in people afflicted with MDE, it can cause issues such as dry or red eyes.

Further, MDE can cause part of the lower eyelid to degenerate, which can in turn cause the eye to be unable to hold tears and moisture as it should. When discussing mechanical dry eye specifically, although the condition is understood, the initial cause does not seem to be clear.

What Causes Dry Eyes

In general, there are numerous causes of dry eyes, of which, mechanical dry eye is only one possible underlying cause.

Dry Eye: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

What is the Technical Name for Mechanical Dry Eye

Mechanical Dry Eye is often referred to by its abbreviation, MDE. The scientific name or technical name for mechanical dry eye is conjunctivochalasis (CCh).

What are Possible Symptoms of Mechanical Dry Eye

Many people report that having MDE feels somewhat like having an object in your eye that doesn’t belong there.  It can also make wearing contact lens uncomfortable, or make eyes appear dry and red.  It is also possible for MDE to go undetected for some time without symptoms.

According to the American International Medical University, several possible symptoms of mechanical dry eye are:

  • General eye discomfort
  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • Watering or tearing eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Blurred vision
  • Dryness
  • Eye tiredness
  • Broken blood vessels in your eye (subconjunctival hemorrhage)

Can MDE be Confused with Another Dry Eye Condition?

The answer is yes, Mechanical Dry Eye is often confused with similar conditions.  This even includes allergies or issues related to wearing contact lens.

This condition is so often confused or misdiagnosed, that on May 19, 2020, a “National Mechanical Dry Eye Day” was founded to promote awareness and education about this frequently misunderstood eye disorder. Many eye disorders and conditions share similar symptoms but may require different. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important to seek professional advice.

By receiving a proper diagnosis, other causes for eye irritation can be ruled out, and proper treatment can be received.

How to Know if You Have Mechanical Dry Eye

Unless you have been properly diagnosed by a medical professional, it is not possible to know if you have mechanical dry eye.  If you suspect you may have any issue with your eyes it is important to seek professional advice from an eye doctor, ophthalmologist, or other qualified health care professional in your area.

How to Deal with Dry Eyes

As with many other conditions, treatment depends on the type and severity of your symptoms and diagnosis.  Depending on the cause and severity of your dry eyes, your eye doctor may recommend various treatments. These treatments can range anywhere from artificial tears up to and including surgical therapies and interventions.

There are also newer treatments available such as Prokera cryopreserved amniotic membrane, that may be recommended by your medical professional if appropriate.

Is Mechanical Dry Eye Curable

Mechanical dry eye is normally a treatable condition.  In some cases, if other treatments for dry eye are not working, it may be that mechanical dry eye is the culprit. Through working with your health care professional, and receiving the correct treatment for your symptoms, it may be possible to successfully alleviate symptoms.