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What is LipiFlow for Dry Eyes?

LipiFlow is an FDA-approved innovative and effective treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which is the leading cause of dry eyes.

Dry eyes are when there is insufficient production of tears by the eyes. Tears are composed of 3 layers: a mucin layer, a water (aqueous) layer, and an oil (lipid) layer. These 3 layers are responsible for keeping the eye surface lubricated. The meibomian glands situated along the rims of the eyelids are responsible for the secretion of oil to the tear film. With meibomian gland dysfunction, the glands become blocked, causing inadequate oil production for the tear film. The quantity of oil or its quality reduces when there is a dysfunction in the glands. MGD causes tears to evaporate too quickly, leading to dry eyes.

LipiFlow is a quick and non-invasive procedure for the treatment of meibomian gland dysfunction that uses a state-of-the-art device to heat up and massage away the blockage. The procedure helps to open up the blocked gland ducts and restore normal flow. A single 12-minute session can provide remarkable relief to patients suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eyes.

Indications for LipiFlow

Your physician may recommend the application of LipiFlow to relieve symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction/dry eyes and improve your quality of life. These symptoms include:

  • Dryness
  • Itching
  • Tearing
  • Discomfort and irritation
  • A feeling of a foreign body in the eye
  • Burning or stinging sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Vision disturbance
  • Redness
  • Discharge

These symptoms may also be accompanied by:

  • Inability to wear contact lenses
  • Difficulty carrying out visual tasks, such as watching TV, reading, and driving
  • Symptoms that worsen late in the day
  • Constant use of eye drops
  • Difficulty being out in the sun

How Does LipiFlow for Dry Eyes Work?

A LipiFlow device consists of a console and a one-time-use sterile device known as the Activator. It utilizes a technology known as vectored thermal pulsation. With this technology, the Activator conveys heat pulses to the glands through the eyelids. It offers a gentle and warm heat to the eyelids while simultaneously applying a gentle massage. This combination effectively eliminates the clogging in the meibomian glands and enables them to secrete the clogged oil. After a session of LipiFlow treatment, the glands will be able to restart their natural production of oil for the tear film. With an adequate oil layer in the tear film, the tears will not evaporate too quickly anymore, ensuring a much healthier eye surface.

What Does LipiFlow Procedure Involve?

In general, the procedure involves the following steps:

  • The eyes are cleaned and numbed with anesthetic eye drops.
  • When your eyes are totally numb, your physician will place the LipiFlow sterile, single-use activators under and over your eyelids without touching the surface of the eye.
  • Once the activators are in place, the procedure takes about 12 minutes. The process starts with the activators applying constant pressure for the first 2 minutes as they warm to a temperature that starts to dissolve the clogging in the gland.  
  • Over the next 10 minutes, the activators pass through different levels of pressure, providing a massage that restarts the natural flow of oil.

Post-Procedure Recovery

Usually, there is no downtime associated with LipiFlow. You can return to your regular activities right away following the procedure.

Side Effects of LipiFlow

LipiFlow is a painless and safe procedure, but it may also have some side effects. Potential side effects include:

  • Redness
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Dryness
  • Burning or stinging sensation