LipiFlow Treatment - What it is and How Can it Help With Dry Eye
What Is LipiFlow?
LipiFlow can be a great way to treat issues such as dry eye that are caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD for short. If you have dry eyes, you know how difficult it can be to deal with, and how uncomfortable it is as well. Luckily, this treatment was designed to help eliminate the symptoms of MGD, like dry eyes and other discomfort.
Take a look at the information below to learn more about LipiFlow and whether or not it is a suitable solution for your situation.
LipiFlow Treatment - What it is, and How it Helps Dry Eye?
LipiFlow is in fact only half of a treatment plan for meibomian gland dysfunction– the other half being LipiView, the diagnostic tool that is used to assess the eye and determine whether or not the treatment plan will work for you. It is FDA approved, and was designed by TearScience. The procedure helps to remove blockages in the meibomian glands, which can be the root cause of dry eye that is suffered by patients.
Many now consider this treatment to be the standard in treating meibomian gland dysfunction. It involves a device that comes with a console, as well as a single use device known as the activator. Each activator is sterile and used only once, so you can be assured that the procedure is hygienic and sanitary. This activator utilizes a technology that is called Vectored Thermal Pulsation– it sends gentle heat pulses through the eyelids to the meibomian glands. These heat pulses help to remove the blockages in the glands, allowing them to then secrete the clogged oil.
After a session, the meibomian glands will be able to resume the natural production of oil for the tear film, as the blockages have been removed and dealt with. Over time, these blockages will build up again, requiring another LipiFlow session. It’s important to note that this will not permanently fix the problem, as dry eyes and meibomian gland dysfunction are chronic conditions. It is a treatment method, and not a permanent solution.
What Is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
Meibomian gland dysfunction is also referred to as MGD for short. It actually refers to not one, but a group of disorders, which affect the meibomian glands. These disorders can be either congenital or acquired, and feature functional abnormalities. In actuality, it can be a very common eye condition– one that many people do not even realize they have.
The meibomian glands are a group of several tiny glands in the eyelids. They create and secrete an oil that is known as meibum. Meibum is so important because it is one of the key components of tear film– the other main components being water and mucus. If you are unfamiliar with tear film, it is the liquid that keeps your eyes moist. The oil, or meibum, in tear film is so important because it is what prevents the water layer from evaporating or drying out too quickly.
Changes to the oil or the meibomian glands themselves can therefore lead to meibomian gland dysfunction. However, it is often caused by a combination of things, such as age and ethnicity, too. The most common type of MGD is called obstructive MGD, which occurs when the gland openings get clogged and less oil– or none at all– is able to reach the surface of the eye. This is one of the types of MGD that LipiFlow is very successful at treating.
There are several symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction, which make it easy to figure out if you have MGD once you know what to look for. Of course, you should always go to your eye doctor for an evaluation and a professional diagnosis, after which they can develop a treatment plan. Some of these symptoms include burning, itchy, or otherwise irritate eyes, as the amount of oil in your tear film decreases. Inflamed, red eyelids are also a sign, and some people experience the inner rim of the eyelid looking rough or uneven– though this symptom is not quite as common. Blurred vision is also a symptom of dry eye and MGD.
Benefits of LipiFlow
LipiFlow has some fantastic benefits, once you are able to be diagnosed and cleared for the treatment. After all, if you do not qualify for it, your eye doctor will not recommend LipiFlow. If you are able to undergo this treatment, it will target the blockages in your meibomian glands that are causing your uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. One of the biggest benefits of this treatment, then, is that it will solve your dry eye issue and provide more comfort in your day to day life! A reduction in dry eye can also affect your visual clarity, improving it overall.
The LipiFlow treatment clears out the meibomian glands, so that these glands are able to return to their normal production of oils again. These oils are crucial to maintaining high quality tears, and they keep them from evaporating too quickly– thus improving the overall health of your eye’s surface.
Another perk here is that there is no recovery time involved. As LipiFlow is not an invasive or surgical procedure, those who undergo this treatment are able to return to their regular activities at once after the treatment is complete.
How Does LipiFlow Treatment Work?
Now that you have a full understanding of LipiFlow itself– from its benefits to what sorts of conditions it treats– you are likely wondering how it works and what the procedure involves. As mentioned above, this is a non invasive procedure, so it does not require any surgeries. Instead, your eye doctor uses a device with a sterile, one use applicator to apply heat waves to the eyelids. These heat waves work to warm the wax blockages in the meibomian glands, so that the glands can secrete the oils to the surface of the eye. This effectively removes the blockages.
First, before any applicator use, your eye doctor will administer anesthetic drops into your eyes so that you are comfortable during the procedure. The gentle heat waves feel like a warm, pulsing massage on your eyelids. Then, the LipiFlow activators will be placed under and over your eyelids– avoiding direct contact with your eye.
How Long Does LipiFlow Last For?
The LipiFlow treatment plan does not last forever. Due to MGD’s classification as a chronic illness or condition, multiple treatments are required to combat the blockages in the meibomian glands that occur in those with this condition. That being said, one treatment will last for a while! How long it lasts effectively will depend on individual factors, so unfortunately, there is not a satisfying “one size fits all” answer to this question. LipiFlow treatment can last anywhere from 6 to 12 months before having to go back in and conduct another treatment session.
When it comes to results, it may not be immediately apparent once you hop out of your eye doctor’s chair. Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to achieve optimal results. As mentioned above, though, the relief that you see can last up to 12 months from the date of your treatment! One year for one treatment is a pretty good timeline!
If you think you are affected by blocked glands causing dry eyes and would like to speak to us about lipiflow dry eye treatment please contact us for a consultation and how lipiflow can work for you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How long does LipiFlow last for?
LipiFlow is not a permanent treatment, as you will have to have it done periodically to treat your eye problems. The results can vary, depending on certain variables with patients, but one LipiFlow treatment can be seen to be effective from 6 months to a year. Since dry eyes are a chronic condition, it requires regular treatments to control and treat.
How much does LipiFlow cost 2020?
On average, LipiFlow treatment can cost around $1000. Your out of pocket costs will depend on factors such as your health insurance plan. Cost may also be affected by evaluation fees, because you will first have to be diagnosed with the LipiView tool for dry eye treatment.
What are the side effects of LipiFlow?
While LipiFlow is a safe procedure, it does still have some minor side effects. After all, even common medicines have their own set of potential side effects. None of these are a particular cause for concern, and the recovery rate for LipiFlow is very fast– however, side effects may include redness, blurred vision, light sensitivity, slight burning or stinging, and dryness.
What is the success rate of LipiFlow?
LipiFlow has a very high success rate, at about 86%. When it comes to seeing results, it typically takes patients around 3 days to see improvements. Most patients will see progressive reduction in symptoms until they are no longer affected by dry eye symptoms and feel relief from the discomfort dry eyes can cause.
Does insurance cover LipiFlow dry eye treatment?
You will have to look into what your individual insurance carrier will cover if you want to see if the LipiFlow dry eye treatment is something that would be paid for. Typically, LipiFlow therapy is not covered by most medical providers or healthcare carriers. The diagnostic exam, however, may still be covered. This is a situation where it is important to do your research!
If you have dry eye symptoms, we recommend speaking with your eye doctor to see if the lipiflow dry eye treatment is the right treatment for you.