Detecting and Treating Dry Eyes Because of MMP-9

August 31st, 2017
african american man rubbing eyes

MMP-9 is a inflammatory signal which is elevated in the tears of both male and female patients suffering from dry eye disease. ICON LASIK now offers a simple in office test detecting the MMP-9 marker in just a few minutes. This tests gives ICON LASIK’s independent surgeons and optometrists the answers they need to quickly treat and stabilize patient’s dry eyes before LASIK surgery.

The Importance of not having dry eyes with LASIK surgery

Of course having dry eyes is uncomfortable. Yet, more important than the simple comfort of not suffering from dry eyes is the fact that dry eyes can cause complications while recovering from LASIK surgery. Therefore, controlling dry eyes before LASIK or other laser refractive procedure results in fewer complications and faster recovery. (Ref, Mutoh T, Nishio).

Causes of dry eyes

There are several common causes of dry eyes. These include:

  • Allergies
  • Medication including many common Over the Counter (OTC) drugs
  • Dry eye disease
  • Smoking of any kind including Hookahs, cigarettes, cigars, and marijuana.
  • Environmental factors including outdoors: wind, dust, and dirt. Indoor environmental factors include forced air heat in the winter. Forced air heating drops indoor humidity levels very low.

With the low humidity that we have in Colorado and the reliance on forced air heat we see a somewhat unique dry eye injury. Patients that have a heat register right above their bed are often forcing dry air right onto a partially opened eye while one sleeps. In some cases this has caused the epithelial on the eye to stick to the inner eye lid and partially tear. This doesn’t cause long term damage but can be very uncomfortable. If you wake up with very dry eyes and it feels like you have something grinding on your eye this maybe what it is. The doctors at Icon LASIK can put a protective contact lens on and administer some eye drops to ease the pain and prevent infections.

Over-the-Counter and prescription treatment solutions for dry eye sufferers

For the treatment of the occasional dry eye discomfort you can try OTC lubricating drops. Simply blinking a lot helps lubricate the eye as well.

Common dry eye conditions from skiing and cycling

If your dry eyes occur during a specific sport e.g. skiing or snowboarding you may want to try switching to a different pair of goggles. Some goggles allow to much air to flow through the vents. Goggles allowing a lot of air flow are good for pipes and terrain parks where you maybe standing around more. There, the larger vents help prevent fogging. Whereas if you are skiing long, fast runs, or racing, you can use a goggle with a lot less ventilation because very little air flow is needed to help keep your protective eye wear fog free.

The same situation often occurs in cycling. Certain brands of cycling specific frames provide less air floor to help prevent eye irritation. Smith Optics has two frames for cycling specific use that tend to fit most cycling use cases from wet conditions to the high desert dry eye of Colorado.

Some individuals may need punctal plugs to prevent excessive drainage of liquid from the eye. Punctal plugs are inserted by an optometrist or ophthalmologist in a painless in-office procedure.

Treating dry eyes

If you are having difficulty controlling your dry eyes then setting up a general eye exam at any of ICON LASIK’s locations is the fastest way to get your dry eyes under control. The independent optometrist and ophthalmologist at Icon will likely run the MMP-9 test to give you a definitive answer as to the cause of your dry eyes and a clear treatment course for your dry eyes. ICON LASIK’s doctors treat dry eyes for pre and post-operative patients for LASIK eye surgery and also general eye care for individuals that are not interested in getting lasik or are not candidates for the surgery.


1. Fournié PR, Gordon GM, Dawson DG, Malecaze FJ, Edelhauser HF, Fini ME. Correlation between epithelial ingrowth and basement membrane remodeling in human corneas after laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis. Arch Ophthalmol. 2010 Apr;128(4):426-36.

2. Mutoh T, Nishio M, Matsumoto Y, Arai K. Correlation between the matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and chondroitin sulfate concentrations in tear fluid after laser in situ keratomileusis. Clin Ophthalmol. 2010 Jul 30;4:823-8.

About ICON Eyecare

ICON Eyecare is a leading surgical and medical eye care provider based out of Denver, CO. Since 1999, ICON has been building a Center of Ophthalmology Excellence empowered by an expert team of board certified physician specialists, the most advanced laser technology and a culture of quality and extraordinary patient care. In coordination with referring optometrists and physicians, ICON Eyecare specializes in treating patients with cataracts, advanced forms of glaucoma and other age and disease related conditions, while providing innovative options for patients seeking LASIK and cosmetic eye procedures. With 14 patient care centers located in Colorado and Texas, ICON Eyecare is expanding within the broader western U.S. region. For more information, please call (720) 524-1001, or visit

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