Millions of people are made miserable by dry eye disease, and with a variety of causes comes a variety of solutions like medications, eye drops and ointments, all of which strive to give patients a little relief. Now there is a new eye-opening option for dry eye sufferers called Lipiflow that only takes a few minutes.
"I felt like I had a piece of glass in my eye,” said Diana Galson-Koov, a dry eye patient who has suffered with the disease for years. But she says she has gotten used to the pain.
Prolonged contact lens wear, birth control, antihistamines and even staring at a screen for too long can all lead to an evaporative dry eye which affects the glands that produce tears.
“Her tears that she’s making are leaving her eyes much quicker than she should be,” says Dr. Ernest Kornmehl of Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates.
He says the majority of his patients, like Diana, come in for dry eye treatments. For many of them he’s now recommending Lipi-Flow.
"It takes 12 minutes and patients go to work immediately after the procedure,” he says. Cups surround the patient’s eyelids, heating up and pulsating to melt any blockages in the tear glands.
“It doesn’t hurt, it just is strange,” Diana says about the procedure.
In an FDA trial, 79-percent of Lipiflow patients showed improvement after receiving the treatment. The doctor says those improvements can last nine to 15 months, but some lipiflow patients like Diana will still need additional treatments.
But for others, Dr. Kornmehl says "they find themselves not taking the drops or ointments as they were before."
Right after her treatment Diana said her eyes felt “lubricated,” bringing some much needed tears to her dry eyes.
Lipiflow is FDA-approved but it is not covered by insurance. The cost per eye can range between $700 and $1100.
Dry eye syndrome is a common disorder of the tear film. Dry eyes occur when tears are not able to provide enough moisture for the eyes. For example, dry eyes will occur if the eyes are not producing enough tears or if the tears are poor quality. Tears are a mixture of water, fatty oils, and mucus. They help make the surface of the eye clear and smooth while protecting against infection. For some dry eyes can occur when there is an imbalance in the composition of tears. Dry eyes can cause the eyes to sting and burn. Certain situations may cause you to feel this pain of dry eyes, such as while riding a bike, or looking at a computer screen for long periods of time. (Source: mayoclincic.com)
RISK FACTORS: Decreased tear production is a major cause of dry eye syndrome. Certain factors may put you at risk. Factors include:
• Being older than 50. Tear production diminishes as you get older.
• Being a postmenopausal woman. Lack of tears is more common in women, due to hormonal changes.
• Having a medical condition that reduces tear production. For example, diabetes, lupus, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, vitamin A deficiency, and thyroid disorders.
• Having laser eye surgery.
Eyelid problems can also put you at risk. Blinking spreads tears across the surface of the eye. If there is an eyelid problem that makes it difficult to blink, tears may not be spread across the eye adequately. Certain medications are also a risk factor for dry eye disease; for example, drugs that are used for high blood pressure, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, antihistamines, and isotretinoin. (Source: mayoclincic.com)
TREATMENT: Dry eye syndrome goes beyond having irritated eyes. It can cause frequent eye infections, scarring on the surface of the eye resulting in vision loss, and decreased quality of life. For most with mildly dry eyes, treatment includes over-the-counter eye drops. If symptoms are more severe, treatment depends on what is causing it. If it is caused by medication, then doctors will suggest switching medications. Also, if there is an eyelid condition, then the doctor may refer you to an eye surgeon to correct the problem. (Source: Mayoclinic.com)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A revolutionary way to help treat dry eye syndrome is the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System. It helps treat dry eyes by opening and clearing blocked glands, which in turn will allow the eyes to resume the natural production of oils (lipids) needed for the tear film. It's a fast procedure that works by applying heat and light pressure to the inside of the eye lid, allowing lipids to be released from the Meibomian glands. In a clinical study, 79% of patients reported improved dry eyes within four weeks of a single treatment. (Source: lipiflow.com)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Ernest W. Kornmehl, MD, FACS
Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates