Dry eye affects a significant number of people and in addition to causing pain and irritation, it can lead to serious vision-threatening eye conditions. Mild cases may be treatable with lubricant eye drops, but more severe cases need to experience the benefits of LipiFlow®.
What Is LipiFlow®?
Although there are a number of causes of dry eye, the most common one is blockage of the oil-forming tear ducts due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGB). These blockages can be gently removed by LipiFlow®, restoring tear oil flow and alleviating the dry eye condition. LipiFlow® is an FDA-approved device that provides gentle heat and massage to both the upper and lower lid to clear the tear glands. This type of treatment has also been described as thermal pulsation therapy. The device applies pulses of heat and gentle pressure to the eyelids, which acts to clear out the matter clogging the ducts.
What Is the Treatment Like?
The treatment only takes around 12 minutes, and most patients report it is soothing and relaxing to experience. Sterile single-use devices are placed on the eyes and while the patient relaxes, the device works to unclog the tear ducts. The devices are designed to gently wrap around the eyelids while staying clear of the cornea, and they apply the therapy to the tear ducts only.
What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
The meibomian glands are found in the eyelids, around 30 or so in the upper eyelid and 25 or so in the lower eyelid. Normally, they act to secrete oils onto the surface of the eyelids. If they become blocked and can’t secrete sufficient amounts of oil, the watery part of the tears (produced by the lacrimal glands) evaporates too quickly, leading to dry eyes. Older age, an Asian ethnic background, and frequent use of eye makeup are all risk factors for MGD.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes?
Symptoms of dry eyes include redness, a gritty feeling, itchy eyes, and blurred vision. In addition, having watery eyes may also be a symptom of dry eyes because it is the result of the lacrimal tear glands trying to correct the problem. Not all cases of dry eyes are caused by MGD, but only an eye doctor like Dr. Patel can determine whether MGD is causing the symptoms. There are several simple tests Dr. Patel can utilize to determine the cause of the dryness. In addition to being uncomfortable and annoying, dry eyes can lead to eye infections and complications that can seriously affect vision.