LipiFlow Treatment for Dry Eye

Written By: Dr. Jeff Goodhew

What is LipiFlow?

LipiFlow is an in-office treatment that can help reduce dry eye symptoms. It uses a technique called thermal expression. The “thermal” part of the treatment heats up the oil glands (meibomian glands) of the upper and lower eyelids to 42C. The “expression” part other treatment gently squeezes the meibomian glands. This removes any stagnant or hardened oil trapped in the glands and greatly improves their function, relieving dry eye symptoms.

lipiflow applicator on patient
LipiFlow Applicator Inserted on Patient

What Component of Dry Eye Disease Does LipiFlow Target?

86% of patient that suffer from dry eye disease have what is called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD for short. This occurs when the meibomian glands (MG’s) are not producing enough good quality oil to keep the surface of the eye moist and comfortable. The oil layer sits on top of the water layer of our tears and prevents it from evaporating. Over time, the MG’s can become clogged with stagnant or hardened oil and begin to shrink in size and die off. As less oil is produced the water layer evaporates too quickly and our eyes become very dry and irritated. The more oil we have in our tear film, the more comfortable our eyes become.

meibomian gland dysfunction mgd gland loss

The goal of LipiFlow treatment is to help your MG’s resume their natural production of good quality oil and thus produce a more stable tear film.

What to Expect During Your LipiFlow Treatment

Our ocular hygienist will apply some numbing drops to your eyes. The LipiFlow applicators are inserted into your eyes and you keep your eyes closed during the treatment. The applicators are single use and have a microchip in them, they are easy to insert and are very comfortable. We’ve even had patients fall asleep during the treatment!

The applicators will warm your eyelids and MG’s to 42C for 4 minutes. This is the temperature required to melt the oil inside of the MG’s. The applicators then gently massage the eyelids expressing the stagnant oil from the glands for 2 mins. The above mentioned cycle is then repeated. The entire treatment takes 12 minutes. The applicators are then removed by our ocular hygienist and disposed of.

lipiflow applicator on eye

What Results Can You Expect From Your LipiFlow Treatment?

  • 85% of patients notice an improvement in their dry eye symptoms 1 month after LipiFlow.
  • 1 LipiFlow treatment can reduce dry eye symptoms for 12-24 months.
  • Studies show that LipiFlow can triple the number of functional oil-producing glands.
  • Contact lens wearers increased their number of comfortable hours of lens wear by 4 after a single LipiFlow treatment.
  • For the first few weeks your eyes may feel more irritated than usual. This is because most of the oil from the glands has been expressed and you need to wait a few weeks for new, better quality oil to be produced. These symptoms are most-often alleviated with artificial tears.

Is LipiFlow Right for You?

If you suffer from dry eye disease, please reach out to our team to book a dry eye assessment to see if LipiFlow is right for you. To learn more about all of your dry eye services you can visit this page. You can visit the J&J Tearscience website to learn more.