There may be more that causes dry eye than previously thought and David Alevi, MD believes he has found out what it might be. While speaking at the 2016 Annual American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, Dr. Alevi said that he has found a correlation between cases of dry eye and those patients that slept on their sides at night. Those patients that sleep on their sides instead of their backs had a higher number of dry eye complaints. While meibomian gland dysfunction, MGD, is thought to be the leading causes, this new theory has caught the attention of many optometrists.

“We wanted to examine the correlation between sleep position with the symptoms of dry eye, MGD, and irritation,” said Dr. Alevi, of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island, Rockville Centre, NY. “As clinicians, we already know how MGD is defined and how it can help characterize changes in the tear film. But it’s unclear what effect some non-obvious habits may have.”

Dry Eye Solution: Change Sleeping Position

After receiving many complaints from side sleepers, Dr. Alevi suggested that they switch to sleeping on their backs consistently. Even though the adjustment from sleeping on their side to their back was an adjustment, many of the patients reported their eyes feeling better and no longer symptomatic when they woke up in the morning.

Out of the 130 patients that were being treated for MGD and/or dry eye, Dr. Alevi enrolled 125 of them into an evaluation to test his theory on the side sleeping correlation.

The Dry Eye/Side Sleeping Evaluation

According to Dr. Alevi, the patients that enrolled underwent numerous different testings to have something to compare to the published estimates of the dry eye disease severity. “Dry eye severity was graded based on MGD stage, lissamine green staining, Schirmer testing, treat osmolarity levels, and clinical exam,” he said. “Select patients also underwent meibomography.

The results of the tests were surprising and also supported Dr. Alevi’s idea of the correlation. For instance, the Lissamine green staining  was heavier for those that slept on their sides instead of their back. The OSDI scores of back sleepers were also much higher than side sleepers.

So if you’re experiencing dry eye or MDG, the solution could be as simple as switching up the way you sleep.

If you are experiencing any symptoms of this diseases, please come see us today at The Meadows Family Eye Care.
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