LipiFlow® thermal pulsation treatment is a new advanced form of therapy for the relief of dry eye. It was designed to treat evaporative dry eye, which is the most common form of the condition. Evaporative dry eye develops when there are blockages in the meibomian glands of the eyelids, which are responsible for the production of the lipids that help protect the eye. When production of the lipid layer decreases, the eyes will not be lubricated sufficiently and tears evaporate too rapidly to benefit the eye. LipiFlow® is the only treatment that focuses on the cause of dry eye and provides sustained relief by improving the function of the eyelid glands.
Good Candidates For LipiFlow® Treatment
Patients who have been diagnosed with evaporative dry eye or meibomian gland dysfunction are typically considered good candidates for treatment with LipiFlow®. Many dry eye patients are initially encouraged to try other techniques including over-the-counter or prescription medications or home remedies such as warm compresses and blinking exercises, but they do not provide long-term relief and are not always effective. Those individuals who are still experiencing pain and other symptoms may benefit from treatment with LipiFlow® instead.
Certain patients with an eye infection, inflammation or irregularities of the eyelid or eye surface generally will not be considered good candidates for a LipiFlow® procedure. Those who have undergone a recent eye surgery, or suffered from an eye injury or herpes outbreak within three months may need to be evaluated at a later point in order to be considered for this treatment.
The LipiFlow® Treatment
The LipiFlow® thermal pulsation system is an effective method for relieving meibomian gland blockages. The problem usually resolves in a single session, so most patients do not require repeat treatments. However, in certain more severe cases, another LipiFlow® procedure may be necessary as symptoms can eventually return.
LipiFlow® works by applying a combination of directed heat and pulses of pressure to the affected area. This targets the problem spot within the meibomian gland, enabling the blockage to clear. Once the blocked gland has been re-opened, the flow of lubricating tear film should begin to alleviate dry eye symptoms.
A disposable eyepiece is placed beneath the patient’s lower and upper eyelids and contoured to ensure that it does not come into contact with the cornea. The patient is placed in a reclined position, and the LipiFlow® system applies the pulses of pressure and heat directly to the affected glands. The treatment is complete in 12 minutes. The LipiFlow® procedure is associated with little to no discomfort, although some patients report feeling some pressure at the treatment site.