Dry eye clinic offers new testing and treatments

Oct. 14, 2023

Many people may experience episodes of dry eyes. Medications, age, medical conditions, eyelid problems and excessive eye strain all can result in dry eyes. For most people with occasional or mild dry eye symptoms, it's enough to regularly use nonprescription eye drops. For patients with more persistent and serious symptoms, however, the solution can seem more elusive.

Mayo Clinic's new dry eye clinic offers new imaging and treatment options, along with comprehensive, multidisciplinary care. The process begins with a complete dry eye evaluation, including imaging of the ocular surface and meibomian glands. "We are also able to test the health of the tears," says Cherie B. Nau, O.D., an optometrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "Ocular surface imaging and tear quality testing help providers direct treatment and allows us to monitor progress."

One of the new technologies available is the Keratograph, which provides an image of the corneal surface and shows the condition of the meibomian glands. It allows healthcare professionals in the dry eye clinic to closely monitor how each treatment changes measurements.

The dry eye clinic also offers specialized, in-office treatments, including lid cleaning, meibomian gland treatments and skin surface treatment. Intense-pulsed light therapy is also available for patients who would benefit from treating the glands in the eyelids to decrease inflammation and help the glands produce better oils.

Eye drops also can be made from a patient's own blood. These drops are called autologous blood serum drops. "This is an option if you have severe dry eye symptoms which don't respond to other treatments," says Barbara K. Tylka, O.D., an optometrist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "To make these eye drops, a sample of the patient's blood is processed to remove the red blood cells and then mixed with a salt solution."

There can be a variety of systemic diseases that might exacerbate dry eye, which leads to the dry eye clinic team working with many different specialties on a daily basis. Whether it's a referral from primary care or a collaborative effort with an ophthalmological surgeon, the dry eye clinic works to meet each patient's unique needs. "As a chronic disease, dry eye can be very frustrating for the patient," says Dr. Nau. "The team that has been assembled is very compassionate to the patients' needs and struggles."

Because pain is a common symptom for patients, the dry eye clinic also has developed a close working relationship with Mayo Clinic's Pain Rehabilitation Center (PRC). The PRC teams based at Mayo Clinic's campuses in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota use a rehabilitation approach that incorporates behavioral, physical and occupational therapies to help restore physical activities and improve quality of life. "Sometimes, it's beneficial for patients to address the pain aspect first so that we can more effectively treat their other dry eye symptoms," says Dr. Tylka.

With the addition of new testing and treatment, along with comprehensive evaluations, Mayo Clinic's dry eye clinic provides a unique opportunity for patients and their providers. "This condition in moderate to severe stages greatly affects patients' quality of life," says Dr. Tylka. "We are very grateful to have this new clinic available, and we're excited for the positive impact it will have on the patients who need it."

For more information

Refer a patient to Mayo Clinic.