Chronically dry eyes can be irritating, but treating dry eyes with eye drops may not be adequate to deal with ongoing symptoms of blurry vision, watery eyes, and redness. Over the years, there have been a few treatments for treating dry eyes, such as punctal plugs and at-home remedies like warm compresses, but these treatments aren’t always effective. Dr. Patel at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS understands that innovative treatments like Lipiflow may be an ideal option for you.
How Does Lipiflow Work?
Lipiflow is a unique treatment that is designed to address the root cause of dry eyes for patients who have been diagnosed with chronic dry eyes. This treatment system works by freeing the meibomian glands so oil production for a healthy tear film layer can be restored. This treatment takes about 12 minutes to complete for each eye and can be performed as frequently as once a year. Your entire appointment will take about one hour.
During this treatment, gentle heat and massage are applied to your eyelids to release oils from the meibomian glands. The Thermal Pulsation System is a single-use applicator that is placed on the inner eyelids with intermittent massage pressure. The system has sensors to help apply precise directional heat to facilitate the release of obstructed oil glands.
What Does Lipiflow Treat?
Specifically, this treatment is used to treat evaporative dry eye, which occurs when the outer oil layer of the eye is deficient and allows the tear film of the eye to evaporate more quickly. Evaporative dry eye can cause difficulties with common daily activities, such as reading, screen time, driving, television, and more.
Evaporative dry eye is different than other types of eye dryness or irritation. Some dry eye symptoms are caused by cold weather or allergies and may be adequately treated with prescription eye drops or other remedies at home. However, chronic dry eye can be difficult to cope with because of how pervasive the condition is. If you want to resolve the symptoms of your dry eyes, then Lipiflow treatments may be right for you.
How Effective Is Treatment?
This treatment is FDA-approved and has been part of many clinical trials. In one clinical study, roughly 79% of patients experienced an improvement in dry eye symptoms in as little as four weeks, with some participants reporting a 10% to 100% improvement in symptoms. Although this treatment is highly effective for many people, some physicians also pair this treatment with prescription eye drops based on your specific condition.
Is This Treatment Right for You?
The only way to determine if this dry eye treatment is a good match for your symptoms is to undergo a comprehensive eye exam with Dr. Patel. During your consultation for this treatment, Dr. Patel will perform a series of evaluations to assess the health of your tear concentration, tear production, tear film, meibomian glands, lid position, tear ducts, and even your blinking habits. All of these factors will be used to assess whether or not this treatment system will be a good option for your needs.
In general, patients who have been diagnosed with evaporative dry eye are the most appropriate candidates for this treatment. If you have been diagnosed with evaporative dry eye and other treatments have not worked for your symptoms, then you may be a good candidate for this treatment. Some common symptoms of evaporative dry eye include:
- Gritty eyes
- Stinging eyes
- Blurred vision
- Inability to wear contacts
- Light sensitivity
- Eye fatigue
How Is Evaporative Dry Eye Diagnosed?
Evaporative dry eye is one of two dry eye disorders caused by dysfunctional oil production of the eyelid and the tear film layer. This eye condition cannot be confirmed only with symptoms – you will also need to undergo a diagnostic evaluation. Typically, diagnosing evaporative dry eye is done when the eye is examined with a slit lamp biomicroscope, which has a high magnification that allows Dr. Patel to assess your meibomian glands. If glands are plugged up and you have the right symptoms for this condition, then you will likely be diagnosed with evaporative dry eye.
Not all symptoms for evaporative dry eye are very severe. Some people may have a mild version of this condition for years without knowing it. However, when the symptoms of this condition progress, it likely means that the meibomian glands have been plugged for too long or too chronically, which can then cause the glands to atrophy and make your symptoms more severe.
What If Your Eyes Go Untreated?
Atrophy of the meibomian glands is serious, as chronic dysfunction will result in further symptom severity and discomfort. When your eyes continue to be untreated, you may face the risk of permanent loss of functioning meibomian glands. Over time, with an unhealthy film tear layer, the quality of your vision will also begin to degrade. Fast and effective treatment for this condition is key.
Is Lipiflow a Permanent Cure?
No. Right now, there is no permanent cure for evaporative dry eye. Dry eye is considered a chronic condition that can only be managed with consistent treatments, such as with this system, prescription drops, or punctual plugs. With this innovative technology, the results of your treatment can make it easier to manage dry eyes day-to-day so that you can enjoy your life.
How Often Should You Have Treatment?
Many patients can schedule annual treatments once every two years and still reap excellent results with this treatment. However, the condition of your eyes and the severity of your evaporative dry eye will also determine how often you should have this treatment. First-time patients sometimes have a second treatment after six months, and then a year after that to achieve the best results of this treatment. It’s important to remember that, regardless of how often you need to have this treatment, a single appointment can greatly improve your symptoms.
Some additional factors may determine how often you have this treatment. For example, some people have daily activities that may make the symptoms of chronic dry eyes more pervasive, such as extensive computer time. Your genetics, the physiology of your eyes, and how long you have been diagnosed with evaporative dry eye may also be factors in how long your results will last.
How Soon Will You Enjoy Results?
One Lipiflow treatment is incredibly powerful and can unblock the oil production in your eye within a matter of weeks. Most people will be able to see initial results, such as alleviating evaporative dry eye symptoms, within about one to two weeks. These results will continue to improve over the next few months, particularly for people who have severe symptoms. About 84% of patients can see significant improvements in their symptoms within four weeks.
How Should You Prepare for Treatment?
It’s important to prepare your eyes correctly for this treatment so you get the best possible results. For example, on the day of your appointment, you should arrive without any eye products, moisturizers, or cosmetics so the system has a clean slate to work with. About 24 hours before your treatment, you should stop using eye drops, eye ointments, and warm compresses.
You may be encouraged to discontinue wearing contact lenses for several days before your treatment, so be sure that you have backup glasses if you need corrective eyewear during the day. You may also be asked to temporarily stop taking certain medications a week before your treatment, such as oral antihistamines. Dr. Patel will give you specific preparation instructions after your consultation.
What Should You Do After Treatment?
After your treatment, you will usually be able to return to your normal daily activities, including wearing contact lenses again, applying make-up, and going back to work. One special instruction you should be sure to follow is the use of lubricating eye drops every two hours during the first week after your treatment, which will encourage good results. There is no recovery period associated with this treatment.
Correct Your Evaporative Dry Eye Condition
If you have been enduring the symptoms of evaporative dry eye and you are looking for a longer-lasting treatment to address your concerns, then Lipiflow may be a good treatment option for you. Designed specifically to treat the root cause of evaporative dry eye, this treatment is much more effective than prescription lenses and can greatly improve the overall comfort of your eyes. Contact us today at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS to schedule your consultation with Dr. Patel today.