If you’ve been seeking answers for dry, irritated eyes, you may have heard of LipiFlow as a possible solution — which only prompted more questions. Here are some helpful answers from our Medina MN optometry clinic.
What is LipiFlow?
LipFlow is a state-of-the-art treatment technique for relieving the main cause of dry eye. This technique focuses on correcting one particular dry eye trigger known as meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD.
What are meibomian glands?
Meibomian glands are small glands on the insides of the eyelids. These glands produce lipids (oils), a critical ingredient in tears alongside water and mucous. A steady supply of oil from the meibomian glands helps to ensure a consistent, stable tear film.
What happens in meibomian gland dysfunction?
MGD typically involves a blockage in the ducts that convey oil from the meibomian glands to the eye’s surface. The lack of oil in the tear film causes your tears to evaporate and dry eye faster than they can be replenished, resulting in dry eye and/or an eyelid irritation called blepharitis.
What problems can dry eye cause?
Dry eye causes itching, irritation, and redness in the eyes, sometimes accompanied by a thick or crumbly discharge on awakening. It can also blur your vision. Extended periods of dry eye expose the eyes to dirt, infectious agents, and other threats, possibly leading to corneal damage.
How does LipiFlow treat meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye?
LipiFlow is a technology that safely and effectively relieves blockages in meibomian glands, thus relieving cases of dry eye caused by insufficient oil. A small applicator, applied to each eye one after the other, uses heat energy and gentle pulsation to warm and stimulate the eyelids. This encourages blockages in the meibomian glands to liquify and exit the ducts.
How safe is LipiFlow? Are there side effects?
LipiFlow is considered very safe, and the FDA has approved its use for MGD treatment. The only side effects, such as redness and stinging, are minor and temporary in nature — especially compared to the long-term relief from dry eye symptoms you may enjoy.
How is LipiFlow superior to other eyelid-warming treatment methods?
LipiFlow isn’t the only MGD treatment technique to use thermal energy, but it boasts significant advantages over its rivals. For instance, one study noted that a single 12-minute LipiFlow treatment was 3 times as effective as multiple sessions of heated eye compresses.
What can I expect from a LipiView consultation from my Medina optometrist?
Your Medina optometrist will use the LipiView Ocular Surface Interferometer to evaluate your tear film and tear production, allowing us to verify the cause of your dry eye. Your eye doctor will also perform a separate meibomian gland analysis.