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What is LipiFlow, And Will It Fix My Dry Eyes?

man with irritated eyes

Are your eyes itching, tearing, or burning? These are common signs of a condition called dry eye syndrome.

Many treatment options are available, but one of the most common is LipiFlow. Keep reading to learn what LipiFlow is and if it will fix your dry eyes!

What Causes Dry Eye?

Various factors can cause your eyes to be dry. Your eyes need tears to keep the front surface of your eye healthy and lubricated.

If your eyes are not producing enough tears, or the tears are not of good quality, your eyes can become dry. Your tears are made of three layers: water, oil, and mucus.

At the ends of each of your eyelids, near your eyelashes, are tiny glands called Meibomian glands. The meibomian glands produce oils, also known as lipids, that provide moisture to the cornea and help the tears stay on the eye longer.   

MGD, or meibomian gland dysfunction, is a common cause of dry eye.

Sometimes, the meibomian glands become clogged and can’t release the oils needed for healthy lubrication.

Other times, the oil inside the glands hardens, becoming more of the consistency of butter rather than oil. If this gland is clogged or the oil is not flowing correctly, your eyes are not getting proper lubrication and become dry. 

Why Do Meibomian Glands Become Clogged?

With MGD, the meibomian glands become clogged and can’t release the oils needed for healthy lubrication. At times, the oil inside the glands hardens, becoming more of the consistency of butter rather than oil. 

If this gland is clogged or the oil is not flowing correctly, your eyes are not getting proper lubrication and become dry. Age can play a role in the cause of MGD, as the number of healthy meibomian glands you have can decrease over time.

Other factors that can cause MGD are some medical issues such as high cholesterol, certain autoimmune diseases, or allergic conjunctivitis. Certain medications and abnormal blinking can also cause MGD. 

How Does Blinking Affect Dry Eye?

Each time you blink, you activate the muscles around your meibomian glands. These muscles squeeze the glands, releasing a droplet of liquid into the tear film. 

If you blink less, the fluid is not released and can become thicker. Eventually, it becomes thick enough to clog the gland.

How is MGD Treated?

Until recently, eye doctors were squeezing the eyelids to release the oil and break up the blockages as a primary treatment. Today, the eye doctors at Chicago Cornea Consultants use an exciting breakthrough treatment: the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System. 

What is LipiFlow, and How Does It Work?

LipiFlow is a device that heats up and massages the meibomian glands.

The heating and massaging of the eyelids increase the oil flow from the glands again, producing lubrication for the eye.  

The LipiFlow device uses cups placed over the eyes that massage your eyelids. The treatment is a simple four-step process and only takes minutes during an office visit.

What Can You Expect During the LipiFlow Procedure?

Your eye doctor will first give you some numbing drops to ease any discomfort. Then, your eye doctor will place the dome-shaped LipiFlow system activators over your eyes. 

Vector Thermal Pulsation technology will apply heat and pressure to the blocked glands. This massage-like procedure will liquefy and clear the obstructions that cause dry eye symptoms.

What Happens After LipiFlow Treatment?

You should be able to drive and resume normal activities right away. Most patients notice improvement right away, though it will take six to eight weeks for the treatment to take full effect.

Are you interested in learning more about LipiFlow? Schedule an appointment at Chicago Cornea Consultants in Chicago, IL today!

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