Do you suffer from acne? Bumps on your eyelids can be a sign

21 01 2014

zitDo you suffer with zits or chronic acne on your face or elsewhere on your body?  Are you obsessed with having and maintaining clear skin?  If you don’t already know, a zit or a pimple on your skin happens when the oils in your pores are trapped, built up and harden.  Your ‘pores’ on your skin are actually called sebaceous glands and are oil producing glands that give your skin the glowing complexion.  Irregular production and secretion of these oils can be caused by dirt from your hands and makeup and lack of proper cleaning of your skin from dead tissue or built up debris.  When these glands, or pores, become obstructed the skin tissue becomes inflamed turning red swollen and sometimes painful.  This inflammation is the body’s response to local trauma.  Now this isn’t the trauma caused from a hit or a poke, but microtrauma induced by the trapped oil and debris pushing on the surrounding wall of the gland and skin.  Some people with certain skin types have a strong inflammatory response which in biology is known as the triple response (of Lewis) which consists of:

  1. Red spot: due to small capillary dilatation
  2. Flare: redness in the surrounding area due to arteriolar dilatation
  3. Wheal: due to leakage of fluid from capillaries and venules

Those with a stronger response will be more likely to have stubborn acne that has limited responses to commercial products.  These cases usually require a skin specialist (dermatologist) to treat it medically.  People with eczema, asthma, psoriasis and rosacea (to name a few) are known to have a hypersensitive triple response.

meibglandNow that you understand what causes a pimple, you should also know that those sebaceous glands found on your skin are also found in your eyelid and are slightly modified to secrete oils for the eye’s surface.  Each eyelid contains 20-40 of these glands and have a very specialized function.  These glands are called meibomian glands and react the same way the pores on your skin react to debris, dirt, bacteria and general trauma.  What’s different about this area of the body however is that your eyelid is constantly moving and wiping away environmental debris from the ocular surface.  If you are a contact lens wearer, then it is also rubbing the plastic of the contact as well causing friction on the inner eyelid.  Considering what we know about trauma and what it does to our glands, imagine that this microtrauma happens every time you blink, every time you apply make up, every time you wear a contact lens and every time your eye is exposed to environmental debris.  That is pretty much every minute of every day!   The average human blinks seven to ten thousand times a day and for those people that have a heightened inflammatory response are more susceptible to the meibomian glands becoming obstructed which can lead to an eyelid pimple otherwise known as a stye.  These styes can get very large if untreated and become chalazion or an eyelid cyst which can in some cases require surgery.  Interestingly, a stye only happens when the blockage has gotten large enough to become visible to the human eye.  The blockage usually starts long before it becomes visible externally.

Unfortunately though, these meibomian glands are few and once blocked or inflamed can quickly become dysfunctional and die off. happysad The eyelid surface is uniquely situated close to the eyelash follicles.  Naturally occurring bacteria often accumulate in high numbers in this area due to built up dead skin, makeup and environmental debris.  This surface cannot be cleaned by commercial products with the precision required without causing harm to the eye (cleanser in the eye, removal pads can abrade the cornea, etc.).  Also the inner eyelid tissue known as the wiper is too sensitive to touch or use retail cleaning agents on without causing pain and or damage.  Basically this tissue is never really cleaned and these glands are under constant burden.

Your eyelid glands are just like your skin glands and need clinical attention to keep them functional and prevent meibomian gland dysfunction which causes up to 86% of dry eye disease patients.  In many cases it is a preventable condition, but only recently has clinical periocular hygiene emerged as a new effective maintenance treatment.  Using special dyes and instruments, the eyelid surface and glands can be treated comfortably in your eye doctor’s office.   New advances in this area allow even the most hardened blockages to be melted using prescribed heat and pressure simultaneously (LipiFlow thermal pulsation) in non-surgical painless procedure.

Bumps on your eyelid are exactly the same as pimples on your face, however the consequence of not treating it or preventing it are potentially vision threatening.  If left untreated eventual gland death can occur decreasing the stability and vitality of your tearfilm.  This puts the entire surface of the eye at risk for infection, chronic inflammation and even scarring of the conjunctiva or cornea.

Experts from around the world have now recognized meibomian gland dysfunction as being perhaps the most pervasive cause of dry eye disease around the planet.  These tiny delicate pores have a huge impact on our visual health.  Talk to your eye doctor about your glands and be proactive.  Having dedicated my career to the ocular surface and spending the last 2 years specifically developing treatments in this area, my advice is:  don’t let the symptoms start!

In good health,

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Cinical Director,

eyeLABS Optometry and Center for Ocular Surface Disease

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

info@eyelabs.ca





Counterknowledge: Is Dry Eye a Disease or a Syndrome?

5 08 2013

The answer:  IT IS A DISEASE!

Language is important and how we treat a medical ailment depends very much on what we call it.  Terminologies like disorders, syndromes and diseases get mixed up and misused and interchanged depending on the literature or even the medical professional you are speaking to.   Defining a condition correctly will change the attitude of the patient suffering from it and the doctor treating it.  Brampton-20130205-00310Dry eye is one such disease that has been misrepresented as a syndrome in many arenas but let’s take a look at the definition of a disease versus a syndrome.

Syndrome:  a collection of signs and symptoms known to frequently appear together but without a known cause.  This grouping generally characterizes a disease or disease process

Disease:  a morbid entity characterized usually by at least two of these criteria:

  1. Recognized etiologic agent (cause)
  2. Identifiable group of signs and symptoms
  3. Consistent anatomic alterations

Dry eye disease, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, is the term used by the internationally recognized Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS).  It has very clear and identifiable signs and symptoms, anatomical changes are both diagnostic and prognostic of the disease itself.  The cause, or etiology, of dry eye is an often debated subject but as a culmination of decades of scientific study, it is well agreed that it can be distilled into one or a combination of aqueous deficiency, lipid or oil deficiency and/or cicatricial (scarring).  It is also generally accepted that dry eye is an inflammatory disease, which is why the majority of pipeline drugs are targeting inhibition of specific inflammatory pathways.

Why is this conversation relevant?  Too often a ‘syndrome’ get’s swept under the rug or trivialized by medicine and pop culture.  We are swift to group symptoms together and call it a syndrome which may be reason enough to take this side-stepping approach.  However when a real and clearly defined condition affects over 25 million US adults and over 100 million people world wide, AND science has elicited cause and effect then it should become an imperative to give it ‘disease’ status; not to scare or induce fear, but to appropriately identify and manage the process.

The next time you meet someone that has dry eye disease (DED), don’t define that person by the disease but rather understand the impact that it has had on her/his life.  Ask them how many doctor’s have actually given it the attention it deserves.

In a survey of 100 patients at eyeLABS Center for Ocular Surface Diseases, the average number of eye physicians/doctors the patient had consulted for DED was 3 prior to seeing me.  I intend to be their last.

sidenoteSideNote: The Ocular Surface is Skin – Treat it that way

Dry Eye Disease is a skin condition, not unlike many dermatological conditions.  The lid surface, meibomian glands and corneal tissue are variations of epithelium and sebaceous glands which will age, like the dermis does.  The lengths of cosmetics, creams, lotions and potions for the skin can help to preserve our skin, but what about the eye?  The science at eyeLABS is founded in ocular surface skin preservation and sustenance.  Lid Margin Debridement (click here for related article) and clinical gland expression provides a basis for the spectrum of treatment options and maintenance procedures available at our clinic.  Contact lens wearers in particular should actively seek these types of treatments out as they are more likely to develop lid related inflammatory conditions (lid wiper epitheliopathy) that directly impact the glands, cornea and therefore dry eye disease progression.

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Inc.

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca





eyeLABS featured on CTV: Dry Eye Clinic

19 07 2013

eyeLABS  was featured on CTV with Dr. Maharaj and fellow patients discussing the disease of dry eye and the merits of effective treatments focused on the eyelid.  LipiFlow, Lid Margin Debridement, and other therapies are found under one unique roof at eyeLABS center for ocular surface disease.  Click here or the image below to watch the CTV segment:  

CTVRMpic

Meibomian gland dysfunction is a commonly overlooked disease entity and can be inconspicuous even under microscopic examination.  Clinical expression by your optometrist or ophthalmologist is the only true way to identify blocked glands.  These glands, once blocked, will eventually atrophy or die which can lead to permanent scarring of the glands inner architecture.

The image below is a scale commonly used at eyeLABS to classify the severity of meibomian gland atrophy (Meibo-Scale).  It is important that patients and doctors intervene early enough in the disease to prevent natural progression, which is certain if left untreated.  Eye drops do little other than cover up the symptoms.  Clinical clearing of the gland is the most effective treatment and LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation is the only FDA approved therapy for MGD.

meiboscale

Dr. Maharaj has treated patients from across the country and has profoundly changed lives by offering ground breaking procedures like LipiFlow and creating new and innovative maintenance therapies like his signature Lid Debridement technique.  eyeLABS is an instruction facility for doctors in training and Dr. Maharaj has trained other LipiFlow doctors at other Toronto clinics in its use and advances in the treatment of Dry Eye Disease.

If you know someone who complains of even mild ocular discomfort with or without contacts, watery and or burning eyes then do them a favour and refer them for therapy they deserve.

eyeLABS center for ocular surface disease is a referral based clinic.  Call 905-456-9333 or Fax referrals to 905-456-9332 to book a consultation.

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Center for Ocular Surface Disease

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca





eyeLABS Turns 1: Happy Birthday!

4 06 2013

I just wanted to take a moment to thank my colleagues, patients, friends and family for supporting this exciting new clinic.  Today we officially turn 1.  This marks the beginning of a new year with new opportunities to treat and learn from patients and to evolve as eye care evolves.  eyeLABS has been fortunate to receive the accolades from the professional community with a growing group of referring doctors from both far and near.  Most importantly the patients that have entered our doors and who’s lives we’ve changed in the last year have demonstrated to me, my wonderful staff and colleagues alike that indeed we are changing the surface of the eye for the better.  Thank you so much!

 

As always –

 

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Inc.

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca





Just another BRVO?

21 05 2013

A 39 year-old male of South Asian decent reported to the clinic reporting blurry vision in his right eye starting 3-4 days previous.  Vision measured OD 20/50 OS 20/20 (uncorrected – this patients was previously 20/20 OD and OS).  Patient history revealed self reported ‘mild’ hypertension which was not medically managed nor had it been indicated in previous visits with his primary care physician.   IOP was 17 mmHg OD/OS and pupils were normal.  Flurescein angiography study showed no ischemia, however a conservative approach was taken to monitor the macula edema for resolve rather then consider anti-VEGF or therapeutic laser options at the time.

Fundus photo and OCT are shown below OD as well as contrast sensitivity testing.

ODBRVOwMEThe BRVO and to a lesser extent the macular edema is obvious on fundus examination.  On closer inspection though another area off inferiorly and nasal to the disc shows vascular retinopathy in the form of a cotton wool spot and nerve fibre hemorrhages.  This is not associated with the BRVO and signals the chronicity of his systemic hypertension which resulted in an interesting turn of events for this otherwise carefree individual.

Macular edema2ndBRVO

The OCT of the macula  clearly shows the cystic edema associated with this inferior BRVO.  Because of its inferior location this fluid will likely drain away from the macula and be reabsorbed in natural course.

Notice the difference in CS vs. SF curve.  This test was done for monitoring purposes only – it was not a diagnostic test.  It was needed to monitor the quality of his vision in this case as the fluid reduced at his macula.  The retinal surgeon and myself  will rely on this in addition to his objective findings downstream to help in guiding treatment options in the event of poor resolution of edema.

ContrastSensitivityBRVO

Follow up and Discussion:

From a bird’s eye view, I would say this case is worthy of follow up but not a unique set of findings.  What followed was however very interesting.  I examined this patient on a Thursday.  I called his family doctor but was unable to speak to her.  I sent a report and advised to follow up on his hypertension at next visit which turned out to be the next day.   This patient was very proactive and I would argue, his proactive nature helped to save his own life.   Serial BP testing demonstrated an avg BP of 180/160 and the final measurement of the day climbed past 200/180 sending this patient to the emergency room at the local hospital.  He was admitted to CCU over the next 3 days in an  attempt to urgently reduce his risk of stroking out and to steer this patient away from certain death.  After an intense 3 days his BP had come down to 130/85 in response to his medical therapy and it was maintaining.  The patient reported  that his multiple daily headaches had stopped and his quality of sleep was markedly improved.

I am following him regularly until complete resolution, however I believe there is a lesson learned here.

Better communication – For years, this  man was told he was ‘fine’ but had mild hypertension.  His cultural background supported a holistic approach to managing one’s body.  Through mind and inward discipline he was confident that he was in good health.   He hadn’t followed up regarding the ‘mild’ hypertension for at least 2 years because it wasn’t a concern for his doctor so why should it be a concern for him?   In fairness, there was no way to predict that he would suffer from hypertensive crisis years later so the ‘see your doctor when there’s a problem’ approach seemed prudent here.

My communication as his eye doctor to his family doctor was difficult and I haven’t yet received a report on this potentially critical patient whom I referred for urgent care.    To be clear I don’t believe this to be a problem with this doctor specifically but with the system at large.  This is what I believe needs to change.  How we relay information to each other; whether it is two teenagers tweeting their breakup because of broken communication or a doctor to her or his patient or physicians reporting over the care of a patient we are all too busy, too slavish to outdated protocol, too pre-occupied with all about us to listen.

For this lucky young man, I suspect he is listening to his body more than ever.  He told me he and his wife are finally going to take their honeymoon which is years overdue and will slow things down a little at work.  For the record I am biased to the sense of sight,  but I think we could all do a little better to listen to the world around and within us.

In good health,

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Inc.

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca





25.8 Million US with Diabetes vs. 23 Million with Dry Eye Disease

16 05 2013

In June 2012, eyeLABS center for Ocular Surface Disease became the first optometry clinic in Canada to offer LipiFlow Thermal pulsation treatment – the only FDA approved treatment for evaporative dry eye.  eyeLABS is a unique facility because we don’t sell glasses – we manage the ocular surface of patients far and wide and we do so with an array of options that allows for a customized approach to managing a very complex disease – Dry Eye Disease.

eyeLABS year 1 clinical results:

Looking  just over 100 eyes treated using a combination of LipiFlow, lid management techniques, and medicine we have achieved a 90% rate of significant improvement in clinical signs and patient symptoms, 8% with mild to moderate improvement and 2% minimal to no change.  This was defined in our clinical study by validated patient symptom scores, gland scores, corneal staining, tear film break up time and visual acuity.  As a result we continue to educate as many physicians and patients as possible about the shift in approach of managing dry eye from exclusively cornea to the eyelids and glands.

Prevalence of DED vs. Diabetes

According to NDEP (National Diabetes Education Program) there are 25.8 million Americans living with diabetes.  According to a Marketscope 2011 Comprehensive Report on the Global Dry Eye Products, there are 23 million patients living with Dry Eye Disease.  Of course the comparison in the impact of two diseases on the body isn’t fair, but the impact on quality of life (QoL) is eerily similar.  A 2012 study examining 87 dry eye patients and 71 healthy volunteers found that vision-related QoL in dry eye patients was impaired and was correlated with anxiety and depression( Li, M Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2012 Aug 17).  Countless studies examining QoL within the diabetic subset show strong correlations to anxiety and depression due to the daily burden of medicine, monitoring and management.

Dry eye is too often dismissed by physicians as insignificant and ‘not as important’ as other ocular ailments like cataracts or glaucoma and patients have become embarrassed to mention it.  In fact, when eyeLABS Dry Eye Clinic patients were surveyed, the most common reason for not talking about dry eye with other doctor was embarrassment.  Embarrassment that their doctor wouldn’t think it was important.  Interestingly all patients reported social anxiety about the cosmetic appearance of their red eyes to colleagues, family, friends etc. and had sought out medical attention to treat the anxiety as a result.  eyepicture

The social impact of these two diseases are  far-reaching.  Given that the prevalence of the disease is near equivalent why is it that dry eye is swept under the rug?  It is possible that medical options of dry eye have been limited and expert agreement on the cause is divided has resulted in doctor’s complacency towards this growing epidemic.

Being in the position that I’m in seeing dry eye and ocular surface day in day out I can say that this condition does deserve attention and undivided attention at that.  My patients are physicians, teachers, celebrities, pilots, mothers, fathers and and they have all opened up about the anxiety that dry eye has caused them.  One might assume that those listed above are ‘professionals’ and would never leave the disease to take over their lives but many  patients have even considered suicide prior to having treatment because of how limited their lives had become.   For the first time they have had relief and I feel grateful for the opportunity to change their lives.

When one considers the impact of a disease on mental health, the mental health should be then considered a co-morbidity.  Diabetes, Dry Eye Disease and many other ailments all have the common denominator on reduction in quality of life and an increase in depressive and anxious tendencies.  Almost 50 million Americans share this common denominator between diabetes and dry eye, but those with dry eye don’t have nearly as many resources for dealing with their condition.  Considering the success I’ve had with my patients in this last year, I submit that we can do a better.

In good health,

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Inc.

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca





Counterknowledge: “I only wear my contacts ‘once in a while’ so I usually replace them every 2 to 3 months”

20 02 2013

Do you drink milk past the expiration date?

Not likely, and if you do you’re probably not happy about it.  Contact lenses are tiny thin pieces of hydrated plastic that, like every other material in the world, are not impervious to getting dirty.  Despite pharmaceutical companies’ best efforts to create the perfect cleaning systems, even the best cleaning agent (hydrogen peroxide based systems) for both contact lens and ocular surface still doesn’t clean everything.  Protein sticks to the contact lens surface and over a period of days to weeks will denature or break down.  This denatured protein does not agree with the ocular surfaces  and can cause a host of complications that may not have immediate symptoms or signs.

17 million people in the US alone have Contact Lens Induce Dry Eye or CLIDE (Ramamoorthy P, 2008).  The peak age of contact lens wearers is in the mid-20’s and Brampton-20130205-00310

How often do you change your oil in your car?  How often do you and your eye doctor discuss  your eyes oil and how it relates to contact lens comfort and every day optical optimization?  Japan is home to the world’s highest number of LASIK surgeries performed at Shinigawa LASIK centers with over 1 million surgeries to date.  In order to optimize visual and surgical clarity each patient undergoes LipiFlow thermal pulsation, a new standard for treating ocular surface disease – specifically dry eye.  In December 2012, Shinigawa set a new standard in LASIK by treating 1000 patients with the LipiFlow system.   This precedent shouldn’t be isolated to those paying for premium refractive surgery.  The amount of money you invest in contact lenses over a lifetime is likely more then you would pay for lasik, so why does the ocular surface not matter as much?

Proper maintenance and therapies for you eyelids, cornea and contact lenses are crucial for comfortable clear vision but the wide and sometimes careless availability of contacts through online stores and big box environments have turned contacts into a commodity and with that comes this pitfall – ‘If I can shop around for the lowest price like a pack of gum then it must not be worth taking care of.  Right?’  But are your eyes a commodity that is as easily replaceable?  If you knew 10 years from now that you wouldn’t be able to tolerate your contact lenses would you do something different today?

Here’s what you can do:

1) Wear single use lenses otherwise known as daily disposables   Get rid of your case and solution and use it once and then toss it.  The healthiest contact lens is no lens at all.  The second healthiest is a daily disposable – sterile fresh lenses in the eye every day.

2) Treat your eyelids well – if you wear make-up, smoke, work in an office or use a computer for more then 4 hours a day then statistically your eyelids and blink are likely to be contributing to lid disease down the road.  Talk to your doctor about ocular surface health and options for maintaining it.  How often do you get a facial?   Your eyelids deserve the same!

3) Don’t shop downwards.  Consider your contact lenses and vision choices the way you would consider LASIK – you would make your decisions based on risk, doctor experience, equipment safety and statistical likelihoods first before looking at price.  Just because you can find them cheap online, does not mean they were created equal.

sidenote

SideNote: LipiFlow is available in Canada

LipiFlow is the only FDA approved in-office procedure that has demonstrated clinical effectiveness in treating the ocular surface, specifically meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).  Although offerred to pre-operative patients going through lasik and cataract surgery in large refractive surgery centers, eyeLABS dry eye clinic is dedicated to the ocular surface  and is located in Brampton, Ontario.  A 12-minute non-surgical procedure has provided patients with relief of symptoms for up to 15 months as reported in clinical trials.  Making this available to everyone will make a difference to contact lens wearers and non wearers alike – Dr. Maharaj is the first optometric clinic in North America to acquire this technology.  Call 905-456-9333 to discuss your dry eye options.

Dr. Richard Maharaj OD, FAAO

Director of Optometry,

eyeLABS Inc.

www.eyelabs.ca

twitter: @eyelabsinc

rmaharaj@eyelabs.ca