What is Dry Eye Syndrome or Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes are a very common eye disease in that the normal tear production is decreased or lost. This results in symptoms such as dry eye sensation, grittiness, foreign body sensation, light sensitivity, redness, blurred vision, tearing, burning, itching, and crusting around the eyes.
Prior Treatments for Dry Eyes
Artificial tears are instilled into the eye for comfort on an as needed basis. In more severe cases, this may not be adequate and the patient is still uncomfortable.
Restasis is an ocular medication that is instilled onto the eye two times a day. It helps the cells and glands around the eye improve their ability to produce better and more normal tears.
Tiny plugs are placed in the tear ducts that drain the tears from the eye into the nose. With this simple procedure, the tears remain on the surface of the eye and the eye stays moister.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
The meibomian glands located in the eyelids produce the outer lipid or oily layer of the tear film on the eye. This layer is responsible for keeping the liquid portion of the tear film from evaporating from the eye. Approximately seventy five percent of dry eyes occur from meibomian gland dysfunction.
The TearScience System which recently received FDA approval is a thermal pulsation system that treats the meibomian gland dysfunction. The TearScience System is composed of several steps in evaluating the status of the tear film and treatment of the meibomian glands.
The LipiView Ocular Surface Interferometer
The LipiView Ocular Surface Interferometer uses high tech interferometry to view and analyze the tear film. The instrument can capture, archive, manipulate, and store digital images of specular readings of the tear film. This provides a view of the tear film for analysis, recording, and report generation. It will allow an eye doctor to determine if a patient has meibomian gland dysfunction and would benefit from treatment.
Meibomian Gland EvaluatorThe evaluator is a device that the eye doctor can use to evaluate the secretion from the meibomian glands during the eye exam.
LipiFlow ® Thermal Pulsation SystemThe LipiFlow device applies controlled heat to the back surface of the eyelids close to where the meibomian glands are located. It also applies intermittent gentle pressure to the outer surface of the eyelid to help release any obstruction from the meibomian glands and to stimulate better lipid production from the glands.
Potential Risks, Side Effects, and Precautions of Treatment
The LipiFlow System should not be used in patients with a history of ocular surgery, injury, or ocular herpes within three months of treatment. It should not be used in patients with active inflammation within three months of treatment. Eyelid abnormalities may make it improper for its use.
Potential risks include increase in eyelid or eye pain, eye irritation, inflammation, and other ocular symptoms. Potential serious adverse events that are not anticipated because of the device design include thermal injury to the eyelid or eye, physical pressure induced injury to the eyelid and ocular surface infection.
The TearScience LipiFlow System is new FDA approved treatment available for the treatment of dry eyes due to meibomian gland dysfunction. This gives patients another option for treatment of their dry eye syndrome.