The itchy, gritty feeling of dry eyes can impact your everyday life. Dry eye syndrome (or dry eye disease) can affect your productivity at work if you work on a computer or outside in windy, dusty weather. The irritation makes enjoying activities such as reading or going for a long walk challenging. LipiFlow treatments or intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy at Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates can restore proper tear quality and flow so you can focus on your day-to-day without red, irritated eyes and blurry vision.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Your tears are made of three layers. The oily (lipid) layer moisturizes the eye and stops evaporation. The cornea is nourished and protected by the watery (aqueous) tear layer and the innermost mucus (mucin) layer helps the tears stick to the eye. Dry eyes can be caused by insufficient tear production but are often due to poor tear quality. The most common culprit is evaporative eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which creates the lipid layer of your tear film.
Each eyelid has about 30 meibomian glands, and oil is “expressed” every time you blink to blend with the other layers for even disbursement across your eye. When these glands are blocked, your tears lack the oil needed to prevent evaporation of the watery part of the tear. The oil thickens and stagnates in the glands, leading to gland dysfunction, eventually causing glandular loss. Without treatment, MGD may cause permanent dry eye with severe symptoms.
You are more likely to experience dry eyes as you get older and your body creates fewer tears. Other risk factors include:
- Environmental irritants such as dust and wind
- Wearing contact lenses
- Medical conditions linked to dry eye disease such as Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus or a thyroid disorder
- A side effect from medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and beta-blockers
- Hormonal changes in women
- Use of oral contraceptives (women)
- Previous eye surgery
Dry Eye Treatment with LipiFlow and IPL to Restore Normal Lipid Viscosity and Flow
Eye doctors often recommend patients with evaporative eye disease use warm compresses on their closed eyelids to restore proper gland function. This at-home method is typically ineffective because a layer of cartilage protects the meibomian glands in the eyelid, preventing heat from reaching the area. LipiFlow treatments provide a new and better way to treat MGD by putting heat on the inner eyelid surface and using gentle massage while applying pressure on the outside of the eyelid to clear the blocked glands and improve tear quality. LipiScan technology helps Dr. Kornmehl identify the blocked glands for precise treatment to restore natural flow.
LipiFlow treatments often take 15 minutes or less in our Boston office. During clinical trials, 79 percent of patients who had LipiFlow reported improvement four weeks after their treatment and many used fewer (if any) artificial tears.
IPL Treatments for Long-Term Improvement of Dry Eye Disease
Intense pulsed light treatments heat the eyelid tissues using a pulsed wavelength that reaches through the eyelids to target the blood vessels in the lids to constrict them and eventually minimize the inflammatory cells entering the eye. Dr. Kornmehl combines Lipiflow with IPL for optimal results. Each session takes 10-15 minutes, and most patients require multiple treatments. Some people have relief from symptoms for up to a year after IPL for dry eye disease.
Dry eye disease can impact your lifestyle in many ways, from limiting your screen use and reading to making you think twice before taking a walk on a breezy day. LipiFlow and IPL treatments can give you back your quality of life.
Contact Kornmehl Laser Eye Associates in Boston to learn more about your dry eye treatment options and schedule your eye exam today.