12-minute procedure may relieve chronically dry eyes

Published On: Sep 12 2013 05:14:35 PM EDT
Updated On: Sep 12 2013 06:08:56 PM EDT

Doctors say dry eyes are a growing problem as people spend long hours staring at smartphones and computers.

Doctors say dry eyes are a growing problem as people spend long hours staring at smartphones and computers.

Dry eye patient Christine Dietz said her eyes were so dry, she could feel it in her sleep.

"It feels like sand paper in your eye or like somebody has a hair dryer on high blowing right in your eye," said Dietz. "It never stops. It feels like there is not a drop of fluid in your eye."

Dietz tried eye drops and hot compresses, but nothing worked. Her optometrist Dr. Alan Glazier said her symptoms were caused by clogged glands in her eye lids. He recommended a procedure called the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System to clean out those glands.

"LipiFlow is non-surgical, and it doesn't use any radiation or anything, it just uses heat," said Glazier.

The LipiFlow machine is placed over the eyes and for six minutes, generates heat of about 100 degrees into the glands in the eye lid. For two minutes, the machine pulsates, trying to squeeze out any oil clogging those glands. It repeats that six-minute process one more time, so the whole procedure takes 12 minutes.

Glazier said patients typically see results in about three weeks, but need to repeat the procedure every year.

It worked for Dietz.

"I went right back to work, no pain to it. It took me probably about two months before I started feeling real results," said Dietz. "It's just a world of difference."

Potential risks of the treatment include eye or eyelid pain and irritation.

The major downside of the LipiFlow procedure is the cost. It runs about 17-hundred dollars for both eyes and is not covered by insurance.

To learn more about LipiFlow, click here.

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