Dry Eye Diagnosis and Treatment

Newport & Waterville, ME

Dry eye disease, also known as dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca, is a common condition affecting millions of people around the world. Symptoms of dry eye disease can range from being a minor irritant to debilitating. 

At Newport Eye Care, our doctors can diagnose dry eye disease and provide effective dry eye treatments tailored to your unique needs. 

What is dry eye? 

When a person does not produce enough lubrication for their eyes or the tears produced are not of sufficient quality, dry eye occurs. Many people compare dry eye to a gritty feeling or a sensation that something is stuck in their eye. Without proper dry eye care, the person has a higher risk of infections and may experience damage to the eye’s surface, leading to potential problems in the future.  

Dry eye syndrome can be the result of many factors. Regardless of the cause, there are a variety of dry eye treatment options available that can lead to less discomfort and improved quality of life.

Do you need dry eye treatment? 

Due to a lack of awareness about dry eye syndrome and available dry eye treatments, many people who struggle with this condition do not realize they have a problem. If you experience the following symptoms, you may benefit from dry eye treatment:  

  • Blurry vision  
  • Burning or red eyes 
  • Scratchy sensation in the eyes 
  • Feeling like sand or something grainy is stuck in your eyes  
  • Experiencing discomfort when wearing contact lenses   
  • Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes 
  • Stringy mucus surrounding your eyes 

If you think you may be experiencing dry eye, our eye doctors in Waterville and Newport are here to help you find solutions.  

What causes dry eye disease?  

There are many different reasons people can develop dry eye disease. If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eye disease, it’s important to get a customized evaluation of the underlying causes to effectively treat it.  



Most people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes. 


Certain medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome, can lead to dry eye disease. 


Environmental factors

Many environmental factors can contribute to dry eyes, including the wind, sun, and air conditioning



It is also possible to experience dry eyes as a side effect of certain medications, such as antihistamines and antidepressants.   


Digital eye strain

A decrease in blink rate may cause dry eye symptoms in people who spend long hours in front of a computer screen or other digital device.   


Meibomian gland dysfunction

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) occurs when the meibomian glands in the eyelids become blocked or clogged.   

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These glands produce an oily substance that prevents tear evaporation and helps lubricate the eye. A blockage of these glands affects the production of this oily substance, resulting in dry eyes and an imbalance in the tear film.   

MGD is one of the top underlying causes of dry eye disease and is especially common in people who have a history of blepharitis or eyelid inflammation. Symptoms of MGD can include eye discomfort, redness, a feeling of grittiness, and a sensation of burning or stinging. In severe cases, MGD can also lead to thickened, irregular eyelid margins and meibomian cyst (chalazion) formation. 



Blepharitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the eyelids. It is a common issue that can have various symptoms, including redness, itching, burning, and a sensation of having something gritty in the eyes. 

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It can also cause the eyelashes to become matted or to turn inward, which can lead to irritation and even infection. 

Blepharitis can be caused by several factors, including a bacterial infection, an overgrowth of normal eyelid bacteria, or an allergic reaction. Another possible cause is the obstruction of the oil glands located in the eyelids, which can lead to dry eye disease. Blepharitis can damage these oil glands, reducing the production of the oily layer of tears that lubricate the eyes. This can lead to dryness and irritation, which can then make blepharitis worse, creating a vicious cycle. 



Certain ingredients found in cosmetics have the potential to irritate the eyes, resulting in symptoms such as dryness, redness, and itching. These ingredients include preservatives, fragrances, and specific types of dyes. 

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Cosmetics can also cause dry eyes by blocking the tear ducts, which serve as channels for draining tears away from the eyes. This blockage affects the proper flow of tears, causing them to build up in the eyes and lead to dryness and irritation. 


Demodex mites

Demodex mites are microscopic creatures that naturally reside on human skin, including the eyelashes. While having a few of them is considered normal, an overpopulation of these mites can lead to issues.  

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When Demodex mites multiply excessively on the eyelashes, they can trigger inflammation of the eyelids, resulting in symptoms like redness, itching, and a gritty sensation in the eyes. This inflammation can also damage the oil glands located in the eyelids, leading to the development of dry eye disease. 

Weakened immunity, genetic predisposition, and excessive oil production can create a favorable environment for mites to flourish. To diagnose a Demodex infestation, an eye doctor typically examines an eyelash under a microscope. This close inspection allows them to identify the presence of these mites and determine if they are responsible for eye-related issues. 

Diagnosing dry eye 

Diagnosing dry eye disease involves a thorough examination of your eyes and an evaluation of your symptoms. Tests may include assessing your tear quality, volume, evaporation rate, and chemical composition. Our eye care professionals use various diagnostic technologies to accurately assess the underlying cause and severity of your condition. These may include: 



LipiScan® is a specialized device used for meibomian gland imaging. It provides high-definition images of the meibomian glands, allowing us to evaluate their structure and function. This helps us identify any blockages or abnormalities in the glands, which are often associated with evaporative dry eye. 

Topcon Tear Analyzer

The Topcon tear analyzer is a device that measures important parameters related to tear film stability and ocular surface health. It can assess factors such as blink rate, tear break-up time (TBUT), and tear meniscus height. These measurements help us understand the dynamics of your tear film and identify any abnormalities contributing to your dry eye symptoms. 


We use Tearflo test strips to measure the quality and quantity of your tears. This helps our optometrists identify and manage dry eye conditions more effectively. The test is painless and provides immediate results

Treatment options for dry eye 

At Newport Eye Care, we customize dry eye treatment to meet the specific needs of every patient, with the goal of minimizing dryness and discomfort and promoting optimal eye health. With so many variables at play, everyone’s dry eye treatment experience will be different. Dry eye treatment can range from ongoing to infrequent, depending on a person’s level of discomfort and needs. 

Once we have determined the cause and severity of your dry eye disease, our team will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. The treatment options we offer may include:  


TearCare® is an advanced treatment that uses localized heat therapy to improve meibomian gland function. By applying controlled heat to the eyelids, TearCare® helps to liquefy and release any blockages in the glands, improving the quality of the oil layer in your tears. 

Learn more about TearCare®

Bruder heated masks

These masks enable at-home treatment and are designed to provide therapeutic heat to the eyelids, promoting increased oil flow from the meibomian glands. These masks can help relieve symptoms associated with meibomian gland dysfunction and evaporative dry eye. 

EZ Tears™

EyePromise® EZ Tears is an omega-3 supplement containing a high concentration of DHA and EPA. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help improve the overall health of your tears. Taking EZ Tears as a supplement may help alleviate dry eye symptoms.  

HypoChlor spray

OCuSOFT HypoChlor spray is a topical solution that is applied to the eyelids. It helps to address the inflammatory component of dry eyes by reducing the presence of bacteria and Demodex mites on the eyelids. HypoChlor spray can be an effective addition to your dry eye treatment regimen. 

Blephadex® wipes

Blephadex® wipes are specifically formulated wipes for the management of blepharitis, which is a common underlying cause of dry eyes. These wipes help clean the eyelids and lashes, reducing inflammation and improving the health of the eyelid margins. 

Punctal plugs

For more advanced cases of dry eye:

Punctal plugs are small silicone or gel plugs that are inserted into the tear drainage ducts (puncta) of the eyes. They help to block the drainage of tears, allowing them to stay on the ocular surface longer, providing increased moisture and relief from dry eye symptoms. 

Amniotic membranes (Prokera®)

For more advanced cases of dry eye:

In cases of very advanced dry eye, such as severe keratitis, we may recommend Prokera® treatment. Prokera® is a biologic corneal bandage composed of amniotic membrane tissue. It helps to reduce inflammation, promote healing, and provide a protective environment for the cornea. 

Interested in learning more about dry eye diagnosis and treatment?

Contact our office to schedule a dry eye evaluation in Newport or Waterville today!