When at-home dry eye remedies aren’t enough to alleviate your symptoms, your physician may recommend an in-office procedure. With multiple in-office treatments available at Minnesota Eye Consultants, your physician will help you determine which procedure is right for you.
Conserving your eyes’ own tears is a common approach to keeping the eyes moist. Tears drain out of a small channel in your nose, which can be temporarily or permanently closed by your physician. This is done with silicone or collagen plugs inserted in the tear ducts and can be removed if needed. At times, permanent cautery occlusion may be done.
The LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System is an innovative way of treating Dry Eye patients suffering from Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). LipiFlow® is performed in-office using a device that comfortably heats and massages the eyelids to remove obstructions within the oil-producing glands.
This technology allows for a more focused treatment than traditional dry eye therapy. The LipiFlow system is placed around and behind the eyelids, allowing the device to rest gently on the eye, similar to a contact lens, but without touching the cornea.
Controlled warmth is directed to the inner eyelid surface while protecting the cornea from the heat. The treatment lasts about 12 minutes and you will feel a warm, pressure sensation as the device assists in unclogging the glands. One or both eyes can be treated at the same time. The area treated may be slightly flushed and red for a short time after the procedure, and your physician may prescribe a short course of anti-inflammation eye drops.
Most patients have significant improvement with one treatment, but the effects of LipiFlow depend on the health of your gland structure. Patients are typically re-evaluated a month after the LipiFlow treatment is performed and while some patients notice an improvement in 4 weeks, others may not see results for up to 90 days. Additional treatments may be helpful in some patients, and maintenance therapy is likely recommended at least once a year.
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) treatment is intended for patients with moderate to severe dry eye, especially those with blepharitis, ocular rosacea, or meibomian gland dysfunction.
IPL is a light therapy that uses a broad range of wavelengths to warm the skin, and close down any abnormal blood vessels present. It acts as a powerful warm compress and helps to soften oil secretions that have plugged the meibomian glands.
The IPL device delivers light to the treatment area on the upper part of your face and across the nose region while shields protect your eyes from the light. The meibomian glands are expressed immediately following the light treatment, allowing for built-up oils to be released. The area treated may be slightly flushed and red for a short time following the procedure. There is a tingling sensation associated with this procedure, but most patients tolerate it well.
You may return to normal activities immediately following this procedure, however, sunscreen is strongly recommended on all areas exposed to the sun.
Most patients have significant improvement with one or two treatments. Typically one treatment is done per month for approximately 3-5 months, and maintenance treatments are given every 3-12 months following. All patients likely will need maintenance therapy at least once a year.
The BlephEx device enables eye-care professionals to reduce bacterial debris and the biofilm from your lid margin, with the goal of improving the overall health of the eyelid and decreasing low-grade chronic inflammation.
BlephEx features a medical-grade disposable, micro-sponge that spins along the edge of your eyelids and lashes, exfoliating the eyelids. During this process, biofilm is safely and effectively removed.
The in-office procedure takes approximately 15-20 minutes and numbing drops may be used to increase comfort. Irritation, if noted, is typically short-lived and resolved before leaving the office.
The BlephEx procedure needs to be repeated at regular intervals to keep the disease from returning – similar to the need to brush your teeth after visiting your dentist.
This may come as a shock, but it’s common to have microscopic mites called Demodex inhabiting our facial hair follicles and meibomian glands. Unfortunately, they can cause itching of the eyelid and brow, a burning sensation, and even a foreign body sensation under the eyelids.
Application of diluted Tea Tree Oil and debridement of the eyelids is often performed in the office to treat demodex blepharitis. Although the demodex treatment can’t completely eliminate these mites, it will deplete the mite count, resulting in less eyelid inflammation.
The treatment itself takes approximately 20 minutes and maybe mildly irritating. In order to maintain a healthy eyelid, home therapy may be used after the treatment is performed. This may include Tea Tree Oil ointment, Tea Tree Oil facial soap, and shampoo.
Following treatment, we recommend that you launder your bedsheets. We also advise not to allow pets into your bedroom. Because these mites are contagious, we feel it’s best to evaluate spouses as well.
TearCare® is an open-eye procedure designed to target the underlying cause of evaporative dry eye. It is a tool used to deliver heat to your eyelids when your provider would normally recommend warm compresses for conditions such as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), Dry eye or Blepharitis.
This in-office procedure applies heat directly to the eyelid, melting the blockage within your Meibomian glands. Your doctor then gently presses the eyelid to clear melted meibum using a special pair of forceps.