What is Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)?
MGD is when the oil-producing glands in your eyelids are not functioning properly and stop producing the oil which helps hydrate your eyes. The oil has an olive-oil consistency and is the component of your tears which prevent them from evaporating or falling out of the eyes. When it is not excreted properly, the glands harden and clog up. Once the glands become damaged, they cannot be repaired.
What are the symptoms of MGD?
Your eyes can become either watery or dry, and they may be red and itchy. There may also be a burning sensation, and you may exhibit a lot of eye rubbing.
Do glands permanently damaged by MGD cause health issues besides eye irritation?
The eyes will be more prone to infection and damage to the cornea (including scarring, in severe cases), which can lead to impaired vision.
What about contact lens users?
Many patients with contact lenses when pushed will admit to me that they “feel” the contact lenses in their eyes, but assume that this is the way it is supposed to be. That is not true! Sometimes, it will turn out that they have MGD and by receiving a treatment such as LipiFlow, we can increase the amount of hours in a day that they can wear contact lenses comfortably.
What does LipiFlow do?
A LipiFlow is a device which is inserted into the eye. It heats up the area by the gland behind the eyelid, which is much more effective than a heated compress, which heats up everything through the front of the lid. The heat softens and melts the oils which are clogging the glands, Once melted, the oils are expelled from the eye by the device.
How effective is LipiFlow?
One twelve-minute treatment will generally last a patient anywhere from a year to a year and a half. It is much more effective than many other treatments which may only serve as a source of temporary relief for eye irritation but will not actually treat the problem.
What about Alcon’s iLUX treatment system?
Their system’s benefit is that it is handheld and takes up much less space. However, it is not as comfortable for a patient as LipiFlow, which has been compared by some to spa treatments. The iLUX is also less comfortable for doctors to use, and the treatment takes a longer time.
LipiFlow is not something that everyone needs, but it is a very important tool in dry eye treatment that patients should know is available. Dry Eye Syndrome is a real health issue, and we do not recommend that patients not cut corners in having it treated.