A practical treatment algorithm for managing ocular surface and tear disorders.
Management of ocular surface irritation and morbidity associated with dry eye has been plagued by the complex interplay of different pathogenic elements and substantial variability of ocular surface deficits in patients. A practical algorithm is proposed to achieve effective management of dry eye. When the eye is open, ocular surface health is governed by a stable tear film that is maintained by neuroanatomic integration via 2 reflexes. Any dysfunctional element in this neuroanatomic integration is potentially pathogenic and creates ocular surface deficits leading to dry eye. In general practice, 5 major dysfunctional elements have been identified: decreased ocular surface sensitivity, aqueous tear deficiency, lipid tear deficiency, delayed tear clearance, and ineffective tear spread. Clinical workup should be individualized to identify all such dysfunctional elements in each patient through history taking, external and slit-lamp examination, and special tests. However, practical management lies in the detection of delayed tear clearance. The following strategies are advised: (1) eliminate all intrinsic inflammatory, infectious, allergic, and toxic insults, especially those associated with delayed tear clearance; (2) correct diseases that impede and interfere with tear spread and capacity; (3) create delayed tear clearance for aqueous tear-deficient dry eye by punctual occlusion; and (4) treat lipid-deficient dry eye after sufficient aqueous tears have been conserved. The aforementioned algorithm ameliorates ocular surface irritation and curtails morbidity in most patients. This algorithm can also be adopted for complex cicatricial ocular surface diseases before managing the remaining deficits resulting from hydrodynamic deficiency.
Cornea. 2011 Oct;30 Suppl 1:S8-S14.
From the Ocular Surface Center and Ocular Surface Research & Education Foundation, Miami, FL.