What Is Lipiflow?
Lipiflow is a ground breaking technology used to treat dry eye disease caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System is designed to open and clear blocked glands which then allows the body to resume the natural production of lipids (oils) needed for the tear film.
How Do I Find Out If I Have Evaporative Dry Eye?
During your Comprehensive Dry Eye Exam, your optometrist will conduct a series of evaluations and determine whether or not Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Evaporative Dry Eye are contributing to your chronic dry eye. These evaluations include various measurements utilising the latest technology in dry eye assessment, the Oculus Keratograph 5M, or, K5, including:
- Monitor and record the quality of your lipid layer
- Infra Red light imaging of the meibomian glands to assess the health of your glands
- Test the rate of evaporation
- Assess and record the redness of your eyes.
We then use this data to accurately determine the direct cause of your dry eyes and to develop a dry eye treatment action plan tailored to you, based around treatment with the Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation System.
What Can I Do About Evaporative Dry Eye?
If we determine that your dry eye syndrome is caused by evaporative dry eye due to meibomian gland dysfunction, there are a number of treatment options including:
- Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation System
- Gland Expression
We will also advise you on dietary and lifestyle changes, including supplements, and treatments you can do at home. You can read more about the treatment options for dry eye syndrome here. The Lipiflow Thermal Pulsation system has been clinically demonstrated to relieve blockage of the meibomian glands by application of directed heat and pulsatile pressure. This treatment results in assisting the body to resume its normal production of tear film oils—where drops alone are simply temporary lubrication. With Lipiflow, it is typical to feel relief from your dry eye symptoms after the first treatment.
How Can I Prepare For My Dry Eye Assessment?
Before coming to your initial dry eye assessment and Oculus Keratograph scan there are a number of things you can do to ensure you get the best out of your consultation:
- Do not wear contact lenses to the visit (you can remove these in the consult room if you are wearing them on the day)
- Do not use any artificial tear drops 24 hours prior to the visit
- Do not use any eye lid creams or ointments 24 hours prior to the visit
- Do not use Restasis 24 hours prior to the visit
- Do not swim in a chlorinated pool at least 12 hours prior to the visit
- Remove all make up before the visit
What Happens During Lipiflow Treatment?
A full dry eye appointment with Lipiflow treatment will take between 45 minutes to 1-hour. Actual treatment with LipiFlow takes approximately 12 minutes per eye and both eyes can be treated simultaneously.
Prior to the LipiFlow treatment, we will place one drop of a mild anaesthetic in each eye. You will then undergo a brief procedure called debridement which is simply to help loosen any debris around the edge of the eyelids. Following the debridement, the LipiFlow treatment will begin.
- You will relax in a reclined chair and, depending on the time elapsed, another anaesthetic drop may be placed in the eye to be treated.
- The eye piece will be gently placed into each eye, and you will be asked to close your eyes and keep them gently closed for the treatment.
- Once the applicators are in place, the LipiFlow treatment will start and you will begin to feel both warmth and then gentle pressure on your eyelids.
- The device has two six-minute cycles. The warming phase, followed by intermittent pulsations, and then constant pressure. Once the first cycle has completed, the second cycle will begin with the warming phase. The different phases of the treatment are necessary to facilitate the removal of blockages from the glands.
On average, patients report little to no pain during treatment. The average pain rating is between 1.3- 1.4 on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the least and 10 being the worst pain you could feel). Most patients will start to notice the most symptom relief around 4-6 weeks post treatment. This should continue for the year to year and half.
One month after the treatment, we will have you come back to the office to evaluate progress after the treatment is completed.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From Lipiflow Treatment?
Most patients report symptom relief in two to four weeks. In 84% of patients, gland secretions improve within four weeks. Some patients report improvement on the day of treatment. Patients who have had this chronic disease for more than a year report it can take 4-5 months to notice a difference.
Does Lipiflow Provide Permanent Relief From Dry Eyes?
Evaporative Dry Eye is a chronic disease and no known treatment is completely permanent. Sustained relief from LipiFlow is a function of numerous factors including:
- how long you have had the disease
- your age
- general health
- whether you continue to engage in activities that exacerbate the problem (such as staring at a computer screen for long periods of time)
At In2Eyes we design your dry eye treatment action plan to include a number of treatments which are tailored to your symptoms, the causes of those symptoms and also your individual lifestyle. Additional treatments such as blephasteam, gland expression or IPL may be recommended and are available at In2Eyes. We will also recommend treatments and lifestyle changes that you can do at home to significantly improve the results of Lipiflow treatment as well as reduce the chances of your symptoms getting worse. You can read more about these treatments here.
What Will Happen If I Don’t Get Treatment For Dry Eyes?
Evaporative Dry Eye is a chronic disease which gets worse over time. This is because, once the meibomian glands die away, they cannot be revived. Without effective treatment, dry eye symptoms will worsen and can become debilitating, such as increase discomfort, permanent loss of gland function, cell damage and visual degradation. We often see patients who have apparent ‘excessive blinking’ due to the discomfort of dry eyes—this can cause anxiety in social situations as it is often misinterpreted as a neurological disorder.
With dry eye syndrome, what originally begins as a minor alteration to the tear film can turn into long-term pain and injury. Some patients with severe symptoms eventually report a drop-off in discomfort, which can mean that the nerves in the eye have stopped responding.
Has There Been A Clinical Trial Of Lipiflow?
In a clinical study conducted, most patients (76%) who had the LipiFlow treatment reported improvement of their dry eye symptoms within two weeks. In the study, patients treated with the LipiFlow system showed improvement in oil secretions from the eyelid glands and in the time tears remain on the eye before evaporating.
The study also showed improvement, on average, in patient self-reported dry eye symptoms. At 4 weeks after LipiFlow treatment, 79% of patients reported improvement in dry eye symptoms.
What is combination therapy?
Combination treatments are available with IPL (Intense Pulse Light) with Gland Expression. Contact us to find out more about the various treatments available, prices, or to book in for your dry eye assessment.
What Are The Causes Of Dry Eyes?
Over 2 million Australians suffer from dry eyes. There are a number of causes and our goal is to understand the causes behind your dry eye condition in order to develop the right treatment plan for you. Causes can be environmental, lifestyle-related, age-related, or due to medications or disease. You can read about the causes of dry eye on our website here.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. In2Eyes has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Please consult our optometrists, or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.