If you have dry eye, you know it. Discomfort and vision problems can be a constant distraction at work and keep you from enjoying the activities you love.

LipiFlow is the latest treatment for dry eye. Several research studies have shown it can help patients with the most common dry eye type, evaporative dry eye. In this post, I’ll explain how LipiFlow works, who it can help and how you can learn more.

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What is LipiFlow?

LipiFlow is an office procedure that treats the cause of evaporative dry eye, a problem called Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Before knowing how LipiFlow works, you need to know how these glands keep your eye healthy and moist.

The Meibomian glands are tiny oil-producing glands around the rims of your eyelids. This oil is an important part of your eye’s natural tears because it keeps them from evaporating too quickly from your eye’s surface. If they do evaporate too fast, your eye becomes dry.

Image courtesy of LipiFlow

Meibomian glands sometimes become blocked. When they do, your tears don’t contain enough oil. Treating the blocked Meibomian glands helps restore normal oils to your tear film, resulting in tears that keep the eye moist longer.

How does LipiFlow work?

LipiFlow uses heat and massage to treat blocked Meibomian glands. You wear specialized goggles with small cups that apply controlled warmth from the back of the eyelid, behind the glands, and light massage from the front.

See LipiFlow treatment on “The Doctors” TV show

Watch animation of LipiFlow treatment

How long does a LipiFlow treatment take?

A LipiFlow treatment lasts 12 minutes, and your entire appointment takes about 45 minutes.

Before recommending LipiFlow, your eye doctor needs to do a complete eye examination and tests to determine the cause of your dry eye, unless it is already known. Your exam may include testing your tear film and how well your Meibomian glands are working.

LipiView testing for the cause of dry eye

LipiView is a new way to test for the cause of dry eye. The LipiView has two parts: testing with a small, handheld instrument that simulates an average blink to check how well your Meibomian glands respond, and video imaging that shows your tear film in color, much like oil or gasoline on water. The 20-second video shows how thick your tear film is and how well it spreads across the eye’s surface. LipiView gives you and your doctor more precise, real-time information on possible dry eye causes than ever before.

Watch video on LipiView testing

Where is LipiFlow done?

In your eye doctor’s office. Our St. Vincent clinic is the first Oregon Eye Specialists location offering LipiFlow for dry eye.

Is the treatment uncomfortable?

No. The heat is approximately 108 degrees, about 10 degrees warmer than your normal body temperature, and the massage is gentle. The LipiFlow goggles were designed to fit comfortably on your eyes.

How many LipiFlow treatments do I need?

It depends on your eyes. A treatment every two years is enough for some dry eye patients, while others benefit from LipiFlow every eight to 12 months.

Will my insurance cover LipiFlow for dry eye?

Because LipiFlow is very new, insurance does not cover the cost. Oregon Eye Specialists offers several payment options to help you manage your care.

Read more about dry eye

Visit our St. Vincent clinic – the first location offering LipiFlow

Meet Kelly Chung, M.D.

 

About the Expert

Dr. Kelly Chung is experienced in complex cataract surgery and advanced lens implant technology, including multifocal, toric and Crystalens intraocular lens implants. For 14 years, Dr. Chung was lead cataract surgeon and director of comprehensive ophthalmology at Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). Learn more about Dr. Kelly Chung »
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