Not A Dry Eye In Her House

New protocol unclogs glands, brings lasting relief from chronic condition.

Matina Soutsos sitting on beach

Matina Soutsos

For most of her young adult life, Matina Soutsos worked in mortgage banking. In the midst of that career, she began restoring historic homes as a hobby. Before long, that pastime became a career.

“I bought one home and restored that,” relates Matina, 56. “Then it went from one home to 10, and 10 went to 20 and so on. Eventually, I didn’t have time for my mortgage banking job and ended up restoring homes full time.”
And now, she’s a building developer repurposing existing historic structures.

“Currently, I’m in Indianapolis turning a church that was built in 1927 into a hostel,” Matina says. “Repurposing involves taking the structure down to its studs and redesigning and reengineering it inside to create a really cool space. We bring the structure back to its original state on the outside. There are lots of people involved including architects and workers from every possible trade.

“I love my job because I get to create, and each property is different.”

Originally from Long Beach, California, Matina moved to Denver in 1994. She and her husband traveled south in 2020 to ride out the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.

“I’m a breast cancer survivor and suffer with chemo cold,” Matina relates. “We came to Florida in May and never left. We’re moving to Florida permanently because we love it there. I love the weather. It’s more soothing for my body. I don’t experience chemo cold down there.”

Matina has dealt with another exasperating condition that made her life miserable: dry eye. It proved immune to various treatments, and the eye doctors she visited failed to help. But an answer presented itself when Matina’s husband underwent LASIK surgery this past year.

“I’ve always had horrible, chronic dry eye, and it bothered me all day and night,” Matina shares. “In the morning, it used to take me five minutes to open my eyes because they were so dry. Then I’d go through the day constantly dousing my eyes with drops, gels — you name it. Even in the middle of the night, I’d wake up because my eyes were so dry that it felt like I had cracked glass in them.

Matina and her husband, Amedeo, standing next to each pther on the beach

Matina and her husband, Amedeo.

When the problem first started, Matina had no idea of the cause.

“I thought maybe it was the weather or something I was eating or something in the environment,” she recollects. “All I knew was that my eyes were always crackling, and I went to specialist after specialist. Nothing they prescribed worked, and believe me, I tried all the drops.

RESTASIS® worked for a while but became very painful to use because it burned my eyes. After that, it was like no one could help me. Every other doctor said, This is just the way it’s going to be. It’s the way your body is built. Eventually, I gave up. I figured I just had to live with the dry eye, but it was horrible to do so.”

Ahead of his LASIK procedure, Matina’s husband researched eye care providers and discovered The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center and its founder, cornea specialist Clifford L. Salinger, MD. He noted Dr. Salinger’s reputation for treating dry eye and recommended him to Matina.

“Matina came to us experiencing quite a bit of discomfort in both eyes,” Dr. Salinger reports. “We diagnosed dry eye disease and Meibomian gland dysfunction, a condition in which the oil glands in the eyelids become clogged with thickened material.

“We started her on an extensive treatment protocol, which includes anti-inflammatory steroid drops, antibiotic drops, artificial tears and artificial tear ointment at bedtime, hot compresses, lid cleaning with lid massage, and vitamin supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6. This comprehensive treatment addresses the multiple factors that contribute to dry eye disease, and is often quite beneficial to relieve symptoms and improve their dry eye condition.”

That helped some, but it wasn’t until Matina received treatment with the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System that there was a significant difference in the clinical appearance of her eyes and the symptoms of discomfort, the doctor said.

Combined Functions

The LipiFlow treatment, from TearScience®, combines the controlled application of therapeutic heat with a gentle, pulsating massage. These functions work to liquefy, then remove clogging debris from the eyelid glands, enabling them to function efficiently.

“LipiFlow is a revolutionary breakthrough for treating chronic dry eye disease,” Dr. Salinger contends. “It relieves dry eye symptoms by removing blockages of the eyelids’ oil glands. Opening and clearing the blocked glands enhances the natural production of the oils needed to restore a healthier tear layer on the surface of the eye.

At the Dry Eye Spa, LipiFlow is a three-step process.

“First,” Dr. Salinger says, “we do a thorough deep cleaning of the eyelids followed by the LipiFlow treatment itself. After that, we perform a manual expression of the Meibomian glands to remove any remaining clogging material. This makes room for healthier oil material to populate the glands and flow normally so the tear layer is more stable and uniform, which improves the dryness.”

Matina says the LipiFlow treatment, performed on August 10, was not painful.

“I’m not used to keeping my eyes open that long, and Dr. Salinger didn’t want me to blink,” she recalls. “That was the only uncomfortable part about the procedure. Otherwise, it was very mild.”

One month later, there was significant improvement in her condition, Dr. Salinger reports. Three months later, there was no irritation, gritty sensation or blurred vision.

Dr. Salinger calls for the treatment protocol to continue for at least a month after LipiFlow. If the patient responds well, the frequency of the treatments decreases until reaching the minimum amount to maintain the improvement achieved with LipiFlow.

“Our treatment is a comprehensive approach to dry eye disease,” Dr. Salinger informs. “LipiFlow is a very important component, but in and of itself is not the answer. It is critically important for patients to maintain good ocular health, and one of the best ways to do that is to continue their dry eye treatment.”

Exceeding Expectations

Matina had low expectations because nothing else she tried relieved her dry eye symptoms. But she was pleasantly surprised.

“Dr. Salinger told me I should notice a difference in my dry eye within 30 days,” Matina recalls. “I noticed a difference within three days. I was no longer waking up in the middle of the night with that feeling of having cracked glass in my eyes. I couldn’t believe it.”
Her eyes continued to improve until the symptoms disappeared.

“After 25 years, I don’t have dry eye any longer,” she raves. “Dr. Salinger changed my life.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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