Posts Tagged ‘LipiFlow’

LipiFlow: A Defining Therapy for Dry Eye

March 11th, 2019

Among eye disorders, dry eye disease is one of the most common. It affects 30 million Americans. It’s also one of the most uncomfortable. With it, your eyes feel dry and may itch, sting and/or burn. There’s also a feeling you’ve got something foreign in your eye. And even though it’s called dry eye, your eyes may tear a lot, too.

Dry eye disease is generally divided into two types. One is the aqueous deficient type, which means you’re not producing enough tears. The other is the evaporative type, which means your tears aren’t staying on your eyeball long enough to maintain a good protective layer on your eye’s surface.

The majority of people who have the evaporative type of dry eye disease, the more common of the two types, have a condition called Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD. The Meibomian glands make the oil component of tears. Oil is necessary so that your tears maintain that protective layer and leave your eyes with a good tear film.

Meibomian glands are located in the eyelids. There are about 25 to 40 glands in your upper eyelid and 20 to 30 in your lower. MGD is generally from a blockage of some of these glands with debris. This prevents the glands from secreting their oils effectively.

Traditionally, treatment for MGD included warm compresses over the eyelids to loosen any clogs in the glands. This was usually combined with manual massage of the glands to dislodge the debris blocking them.

These methods have had limited results for several reasons, one of the main being patients simply don’t do it. The treatment routine can be difficult to keep up with, so patients often don’t comply with it.

Another reason for failure may be that the heat from the warm compresses is insulated from the glands by the skin of the outer eyelid, so there’s not enough heat by the time it gets to the glands to make a difference. Also, patients often don’t have the know-how or dexterity to apply enough pressure while massaging the eyelids to be effective.

Another option to treat MGD was the physical expression of the Meibomian glands by a trained ophthalmologist. Unfortunately, this could be a painful experience for patients due to the heavy pressure on the eye necessary to accomplish the goal.

Then along comes the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System, which signals a breakthrough in the treatment of MGD and, in turn, dry eye disease. LipiFlow is designed to address the limitations of  traditional treatments.

LipiFlow combines the controlled application of therapeutic heat with a gentle, pulsating massage from a hand-held device. The two functions of the device work to liquefy then remove clogging debris from the glands, enabling them to function efficiently.

The LipiFlow device has two components. The first is a small eyepiece that resembles a large contact lens. The eyepiece slides beneath your eyelid and over the round portion of your eye. It delivers heat outward to the eyelids. It also protects the eye itself from the heat.

The second piece of the device sits outside your eye on the eyelid. It provides the pulsating massage of the glands that gently squeezes them to open up the blockages and express the oils. While not considered especially painful, the LipiFlow procedure is generally performed using drops to anesthetize your eyes and make you more comfortable.

LipiFlow has proven effective at treating MGD and dry eye. Clinical studies show it provides better results than traditional methods alone. In one study, patients receiving LipiFlow had a statistically significant improvement in objective measurements of Meibomian gland function and dry eye symptoms, while warm compresses did not.

In another study, the treatment increased the amount of time people with contact lenses, who are prone to getting dry eye, could wear their lenses by four hours. As a contact lens wearer, I can attest that that, too, is significant.

One of the physicians I work with offers LipiFlow at his practice, and he’s noted excellent results with his patients first hand. In his experience, 80 to 90 percent of his patients had significant improvement in their dry eye symptoms after adding LipiFlow to their existing treatment regimen. That’s pretty impressive.

LipiFlow is performed in your ophthalmologist’s office, and you can drive and do your regular activities immediately after. In some cases, patients notice some improvement in their symptoms right away. Most will begin to see a difference after three weeks, and the full benefit of the LipiFlow is usually seen by six weeks post-procedure.

There’re already 30 million Americans with dry eye disease, and that numbers is just going to get larger, mostly because we can’t put down our laptops and phones. When you use digital devices, you don’t blink as often as when you’re not in front of a screen, and that can lead to dry eye.

At least now you know there’s an effective treatment for dry eye disease if you should need it. But give your eyes a break once in a while and blink!

Stay in Contact

August 21st, 2017

For people who have to wear glasses all the time, contact lenses can be a blessing. But if you wear contacts, like I do, you know they require some tender loving care. If you don’t do it and you continue to wear contaminated lenses, you could be in for some serious eye problems later on.contactlens_istock-153521581

There are a number of complications that can occur from wearing contacts that haven’t been properly disinfected or used as directed by your doctor. Let’s take a look at a few of them, then learn some tips for caring for your lenses. August 21 though 25, 2017, is Contact Lens Health Week, but it’s important to practice good lens hygiene all year long.

Eye problems can happen in anyone who wears contact lenses, but the risk for complications, such as infection, varies based on the type of lens worn.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, single-use, daily disposable lenses are the safest soft contacts for lowering the risk for eye infections. In addition, rigid, gas-permeable lenses are less likely to lead to infection than regular soft contacts. Extended-wear contacts that you sleep in pose the highest threat of infection and other contact lens-related problems.

One type of infection that can occur is keratitis. Keratitis is inflammation of the cornea, the transparent layer forming the front of the eye. The cornea is especially susceptible to this type of infection due to its proximity to the contact. Keratitis is the most serious complication of wearing contacts. If untreated, it can lead to blindness.

Bacteria most often cause keratitis, but in rare cases, it can result from viral or fungal infection. A germ sometimes found in tap water leads to a form of keratitis that is becoming increasingly more common in those who wear soft contact lenses. If you have bacterial keratitis, treatment is generally antibiotic eye drops.

Another disorder linked to extended-wear contact lenses in blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelids that leads to dryness, burning and itching. Blepharitis can occur on it’s own, but it often coincides with dry eye syndrome. With dry eye, which affects healthy tear production, you might feel burning, irritation and itching, a foreign body sensation and general discomfort. Dry eye is one of the most common reasons people stop wearing their contacts.

Eye drops are generally the first line of treatment for blepharitis and dry eye syndrome, but there are other options for treating these disorders as well. They include specialized eye scrubs, a mechanical eyelid cleaning device called BlephEx® for blepharitis and the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System for dry eye.

In addition to keratitis, there are other problems affecting the cornea that are possible, including corneal hypoxia, abrasions and ulcers. With hypoxia, extended contact wear can interfere with oxygen getting through to nourish the cornea. Corneal abrasions are scratches, and ulcers can form when there is erosion of the superficial surface of the cornea. Ulcers are usually related to keratitis and hypoxia.

You can reduce your risk of these complications with routine eye exams with your doctor and proper lens hygiene. The theme of this year’s Contact Lens Health Week is “healthy habits mean healthy eyes.” Here are a few healthy habits to incorporate into your regular contact lens care, courtesy of WebMD:

  • Always follow your doctor’s recommendations as well as the cleaning instructions for your lenses.
  • Keep your lenses and supplies clean. Don’t forget to wash your hands before inserting or removing contacts.
  • Use the lens rinse recommended by your doctor. Never use tap water to clean your contacts, and don’t put them in your mouth to moisten them. Do not wear your contacts when you swim.
  • Thoroughly rinse your lens case and let it air dry.
  • Insert your contacts before you apply makeup, and be sure not to any on your lenses. Replace eye makeup every three to six months to avoid contamination.

Most eye doctors also recommend removing your contacts at the end of each day. Some doctors even recommend removing extended wear lenses daily.

Take the time to take care of your contacts.. Remember, “healthy habits mean healthy eyes.”

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