Dry Eye & Styes Gone After Two Rough Years

LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System eases symptoms triggered by clogged oil glands.

Four years ago, New York native Melanie* developed a large chalazion on the inside of one of her eyelids. Her eye doctor surgically removed the infected but painless lump caused by a clogged oil gland. Melanie thought that was the end of the matter.

A year later, however, Melanie began to experience other uncomfortable issues with her eyes, including a gritty, sandy feeling that often led to headaches, eye redness and multiple styes on both eyelids.

“My ophthalmologist put me on over-the-counter remedies, including lid wipes and other eye treatments,” Melanie recalls. “I stayed on that treatment plan for many months, but nothing helped.

“After that I started taking doxycycline, which is an antibiotic, and ZYLET®, a steroid-antibiotic combination. I took multiple prescription medications for two years, but I still had styes developing on my upper and lower lids on both eyes.

“I was desperate because these styes were starting to affect my work. They limited my computer screen time and other activities. The symptoms were constant. I felt chronic pain every day, like chronic eye headaches. My vision was blurry and sometimes I saw little floaters.

“I was really concerned about my vision and, to be honest, about being on prescription drugs for two years straight. My eye doctor finally referred me to a more experienced eye specialist. He told me I had dry eye disease.”

Melanie’s diagnosis was confirmed by an ophthalmologist in Reno, Nevada, whom she visited while spending time out west. The physician gave Melanie some other bad news as well.

“He said, Not only do you have dry eye, but it’s so bad that most of your glands have atrophied and dried out. They’re gone, and there’s nothing that can be done to bring them back,” Melanie remembers. “He recommended a procedure called LipiFlow®.

The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System is an FDA-approved method for clearing debris that clogs the eye’s oil glands and leads to dry eye. The system consists of a console and a single-use sterile activator.

“She reported a severe burning sensation in her eyes,” Dr. Salinger details. “She also complained of irritation; inflammation; a stinging, scratchy feeling; crusting of her eyelids; and multiple styes. Because Melanie had such a problem with styes, she was losing function of her oil glands, and those that were still functioning were not flowing optimally.”

Styes are red, painful lumps that form due to the blockage of oil glands in the eyelids.

“Like a balloon, an oil gland, or meibomian gland, can expand and become inflamed.” Dr. Salinger explains. “It can also become irritated and infected. It is the blockage and inflammation of these meibomian glands and potential infection that create styes.”

Quantity or Quality

Most people, and even many eye physicians, believe dry eye results from a deficiency in the quantity of tears, Dr. Salinger asserts.

“What we know now is that more than 85 percent of people with dry eye have insufficient oil gland flow, which compromises the quality of the tears,” the cornea specialist maintains. “One of the most important factors to the quality of the tear layer is the balance between water and oil.

“Melanie’s biggest issue was that her meibomian glands were dysfunctional. They were becoming clogged and unable to release their oils, which led to an imbalance of oil in her tear layer. This imbalance resulted in her dry eye symptoms.”

“The LipiFlow helped me get 80 percent better, and I’ll take 80 percent, hands down.” – Melanie

Melanie went to The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center seeking treatment with the LipiFlow. To jumpstart Melanie’s recovery, Dr. Salinger started her on his standard dry eye treatment regimen.

“Our foundational treatment protocol is comprehensive, addressing the root cause of the problem: the blockage and inflammation of the oil glands themselves,” the doctor describes. “These treatments help to prime the oil glands so the LipiFlow will be more beneficial and its effects will last for a longer duration of time.”

“Dr. Salinger put me on vitamins with omega fatty acids, prescribed a lid scrub, antibiotic cream for my eyes and steroid eyedrops,” Melanie points out. “I was skeptical because these treatments didn’t help in the past, but he said I should follow this protocol to be a better candidate for the LipiFlow.”

Heat and Massage

Melanie faithfully followed Dr. Salinger’s protocol and achieved some improvement in her dry eye symptoms, enough to move forward with the LipiFlow in late April.

LipiFlow combines the controlled application of therapeutic heat with a gentle, pulsating massage. These functions work to liquefy and remove debris from the eyelids’ oil glands, enabling them to function efficiently.

“After the LipiFlow treatment, we performed a manual expression of her meibomian glands to remove any remaining clogging material,” Dr. Salinger discloses. “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.”

Following the three-step LipiFlow process, Dr. Salinger maintains dry eye patients on the previous treatment regimen, which helps amplify and extend the benefits of the LipiFlow. His goal is to find the least amount of treatment that can maintain the benefits of the LipiFlow.

“When Melanie returned for a follow-up visit in mid-June, she noted that her condition was 80 to 90 percent better with one LipiFlow session and ongoing compliance with the standard treatment regimen.

“Melanie had significant meibomian gland dysfunction and may warrant LipiFlow retreatment sooner than average. Our experience is that at one year, about 10 percent of people warrant retreatment based on their symptoms returning. At two years, 20 to 25 percent need retreatment, and at three years, about 40 to 50 percent warrant retreatment.”

“I Have No Symptoms”

Right now, Melanie isn’t worrying about retreatment. Instead, she’s enjoying the relief after one LipiFlow procedure.

“Basically, I have no symptoms,” she enthuses. “The styes are gone, and all the grittiness, headaches, burning and itching are gone. I’m off the prescription medication, too. I’d say the LipiFlow helped me get 80 percent better, and I’ll take 80 percent, hands down.”

Melanie is thrilled with the results of her treatment. She’s equally thrilled with Dr. Salinger and his staff at The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center.

“Dr. Salinger is great,” she raves. “He isn’t aggressive. He wants to make sure he covers all the bases. He didn’t go straight to the LipiFlow. Rather, he said, Let’s do the protocol first and see how you react.

“The office is fantastic. The technicians are fantastic. They explained every bit of what the procedure is, how it feels and what to expect. They said if I got 70 percent improvement that’s good. Dr. Salinger got me to 80 percent, and I’m happy with that.”

© FHCN article by Patti DiPanfilo. mkb
*Patient’s name changed at her request.
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