Say I Do To LipiFlow

Innovative lid treatment unclogs oil glands, relieves styes and dry eye

Kimberly Lokitus has been a massage therapist for 14 years and is quite passionate about her work. Almost as passionate as she is about her fiancé and their upcoming nuptials.

Kimberly Lokitus

“The LipiFlow really worked for me. My eyes feel better all the way around.”

“I’m getting married to the love of my life in December,” Kimberly, 42, enthuses. “His name is Bear, and I’m really excited we found each other; we’re really happy together. We’re getting married in Tradition, a brand new community in Port St. Lucie. Our wedding is being held in the Tradition Town Hall. It’s a beautiful venue.

“Bear was a professional baseball player in the 1980s; he was a pitcher. Since retiring from baseball, he enjoys working in pool construction. He’s a supervisor for a pool construction company. He likes getting his hands dirty while getting a suntan.

“Our wedding will be average size. There will be about 100 people attending. I’m inviting my family and closest friends, and I’m looking forward to having everyone together.”

December 2021 will surely be memorable for Kimberly. December 2018 is memorable for her as well, but for a much less pleasant reason. It marks the launch of a long odyssey in search of a solution to an aggravating, uncomfortable eye issue.

“It started when I developed a stye on the upper lid of my right eye,” Kimberly recounts. “It grew increasingly worse to where I went to a walk-in clinic. The doctor gave me medication and said, If it gets any worse, you’ll have to go to the hospital.

“Well, the stye ruptured inside my eye that night while I was sleeping. My eye was swollen shut, and because the infection soaked into my face, I developed a condition called periorbital cellulitis.”

Periorbital cellulitis is a bacterial infection of the skin around the eye. Kimberly learned of the condition after she proceeded to the nearest hospital, where she was promptly admitted. She remained hospitalized for a week while receiving intravenous antibiotics to battle the infection. 

“It took maybe four or five months for my eye to clear up from that infection,” Kimberly relates. “After that, styes kept recurring, primarily in my right eye but eventually in my left eye as well. Something as simple as crying for 30 seconds or a minute would inflame my eyes and cause a stye.”

For two years, Kimberly’s eye specialist treated her with antibiotics and warm compresses, but they did little to relieve her discomfort. In time, the persistent inflammation led to other problems, including dry eye disease, where the eyes become dry and scratchy, and red eye, where the whites of her eyes appeared reddened or bloodshot.

“The warm compresses and the hygiene routine recommended by my eye specialist weren’t enough; the problems kept recurring,” Kimberly relates. “Then, the doctor mentioned that Dr. Salinger has a procedure that is a deeper treatment. He thought it might help me, so I made an appointment.”

Unhealthy Glands

Clifford L. Salinger, MD, is a cornea specialist and the founder of The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center in Palm Beach Gardens. He is a leader in the treatment of dry eye disease, for which he offers the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System from TearScience® that clears the debris that clogs the eye’s oil glands and leads to dry eye.

Kimberly first visited Dr. Salinger in March, when Dr. Salinger explained that styes develop as a result of blockages and inflammation in the Meibomian glands, the oil glands in the eyelids.

“When these glands become clogged with debris, they continue to produce oil, but the oil can’t be released due to the blockages,” Dr. Salinger educates. “When this occurs, the glands enlarge – much like blowing up a balloon – and they can rupture or burst. If that happens, the contents of the glands enter the eyelid skin and create significant inflammation and sometimes infection. That’s a stye.”

Oil from the Meibomian glands is required to maintain a healthy, stable tear layer on the surface of the eyes. Without sufficient oil, the tear layer is unstable and evaporates more quickly. That’s why Kimberly also began suffering from some of the symptoms associated with dry eye disease and red eye.

“In Ms. Lokitus’ case, it was critical that we get her oil glands healthy and flowing better, not only to stop the recurrent styes, but also to preserve the glands for future oil production and tear film stability,” Dr. Salinger discloses.

On average, there are 30 to 35 Meibomian glands in the upper and lower lids.

Dr. Salinger says people need as many of those glands as possible to maintain good eye health.

“But it’s not uncommon for people with dry eye and styes to have some compromised glands,” he notes. “Those glands don’t die completely, but they can shrink, or part of the gland may disappear or become atrophic.”

That’s what happened with Kimberly. As a result of the infection she battled three years ago, some of her Meibomian glands were damaged or disappeared. The remaining glands were inflamed and led to recurring styes as well as dry eye and red eye. 

Dr. Salinger prescribed several treatments, including hot compresses, lid cleaning, vitamin supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6, tear supplements, anti-inflammatory steroid eye drops and an antibiotic drop to rub in her eyes at bedtime.

“Ms. Lokitus’ oil glands were blocked, so there’s a concern that bacteria was causing a low-grade infection,” Dr. Salinger details. “The antibiotic drop helps clear the infection and change the way the oils are produced so they flow better at normal eyelid temperature.”

Dr. Salinger also recommended LipiFlow, which 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.

“It Really Worked”

At the Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center, LipiFlow is a three-step process.

“We begin with a thorough deep cleaning of the eyelids and follow that with the LipiFlow treatment itself,” Dr. Salinger details. “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.

“We performed the LipiFlow during Ms. Lokitus’ initial visit in March. When we saw her a month later, she reported 90 percent improvement. She said she was feeling very good, and her eyelids were less swollen. In her words, They felt lighter.”  

Kimberly reports she hasn’t had a stye since undergoing the LipiFlow procedure.

“My eyes feel great now,” she raves. “The LipiFlow really worked for me. My eyes feel better all the way around. I don’t feel like I have dry eye, and I don’t have as much red eye. Overall, I have less inflammation in my eyes, and that’s what I needed to begin with.”

Unfortunately, Kimberly lost several Meibomian glands to the persistent infection and inflammation. She battled that problem for three years with no results but finally found a solution at The Dry Eye Spa & V.I.P. Laser Eye Center.

“There’s been so much trauma to my eyes since December 2018,” Kimberly confirms. “If I had met Dr. Salinger earlier, I believe we could have preserved more of my Meibomian glands. But the infection was so bad, and I didn’t get the help I needed until this year.”

Dr. Salinger’s expertise and bedside manner receive kudos from Kimberly.  

“Dr. Salinger is very nice and informative,” she describes. “He’s very knowledgeable, and he gave me the care I needed. I highly recommend him.”

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