Is it Dry Eye or MGD?
Many attribute their eye discomfort to dry eye, when the root cause of the burning, scratching and redness is most likely meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). MGD occurs when there is compromise to the function and/or structure of the meibomian glands in the eyelids that produce the protective oily layer of the tear film. This good oil helps protect the ocular surface from disease and prevents the watery part of the tears from evaporating when your eyes are open. Without these oils, our eyes become more susceptible to the negative effects that dry climates, air conditioning, computer use, reading and other daily activities can have on the long-term health of our eyes.
To assess meibomian gland health and to identify MGD, both meibomian gland function and structure are evaluated. Gland Function Function is evaluated by assessing how the glands respond to gentle force, approximating that of a deliberate blink. The blink health, which is crucial to maintaining gland function, is assessed by determining the completeness of each blink. Reduced gland function is correlated with symptoms of eye discomfort and eye redness.
Structure is observed and captured with high definition gland imaging. Structural compromise, which is otherwise invisible, can be identified and documented with gland imaging. Failure to treat obstructed glands is likely to lead to further structural compromise. Once glands are lost there is no way to regenerate them.
Treating MGD with LipiFlow®
While there are multiple choices available for treating MGD, LipiFlow is the only FDA-cleared in-office, inner lid treatment for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). The LipiFlow treatment utilizes a patented Thermal Pulsation to the inner eyelids to improve the function of your meibomian glands.
An Answer for Millions with Dry Eye
Nearly 10 million people in Canada, and over 300 million worldwide have dry eyes. Most have learned to live with eye discomfort and have become dependent on drops or other treatment methods that only offer temporary relief. This has been due to a lack of understanding that the root cause of most dry eye is now known to be a chronic and progressive condition called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction or MGD.
What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the eyelids caused by an overgrowth of normal bacteria living along the lid and the base of the eyelashes. Anyone can get blepharitis at any age, but the prevalence increases with age, since as we get older, we make fewer natural antibodies in our tears.
This overgrowth of bacteria causes crusting along the eyelid, and creates a sticky biofilm that harbors bacterial exotoxins. Since the eyelid margins are difficult to clean, this overgrowth of bacteria, scurf and biofilm can build up over many years.
The sugary biofilm allows even more bacteria to flourish, not only causing a multitude of irritating symptoms, but eventually chronic inflammation, due to the inflammatory nature of exotoxins. The inflammation, in turn, adversely affects all of the structures in the eyelid, namely, the tear glands.
Constant eye irritation, foreign body sensation and chronic dry eye disease are the end result if not treated. Now, thanks to BlephEx®, your doctor can directly clean and exfoliate your eyelids and lashes, and remove the biofilm, which will almost immediately improve your symptoms and help control the long-term damage to your tear glands.
What are the symptoms of blepharitis?
The common symptoms of blepharitis are:
• Itching or scratchy eyes
• Foreign body sensation
• Dry eyes
• Eye rubbing
What are the traditional treatments?
The traditional treatment is for the patient to scrub the eyelid margins with baby shampoo on a cotton swab or one of the commercially available lid care products. This can be a difficult procedure to perform at home and has limited effectiveness.
Fortunately, there is a revolutionary new treatment for blepharitis. Developed by a board certified ophthalmologist, BlephEx® is an in-office procedure performed directly by your eye care provider. With the BlephEx® procedure your doctor can now take an active role in treating blepharitis instead of simply relying on your ability to perform semi-effective home lid scrubs.
How is BlephEx® different?
With BlephEx® the doctor thoroughly and precisely eliminates the scurf and bacterial debris and biofilm that builds up along the lid margin. These are the main causes of inflammatory lid disease.
Properly performed, BlephEx® will reduce or alleviate these chronic and debilitating symptoms. Treatments are typically repeated at regular monthly intervals depending on severity of the disease.
By eliminating the inflammatory etiology of blepharitis, the overall health of the eyelid is improved. Patients can then begin to produce more of their own tears and finally enjoy a life free from the chronic and irritating symptoms associated with blepharitis and its subsequent dry eye disease.
Am I at risk of blepharitis?
The risk of blepharitis increases as a patient ages. A study by Walter Reed Hospital determined that incidences of blepharitis in the U.S. steadily increase from 3% of 18-20 year olds to a staggering 71% of those over 65. That equates to more than 40 million individuals in the 65+ age group with the total number of patients with blepharitis in the U.S. alone is over 82 million people.
According to a study conducted in 2009, “most ophthalmologists and optometrists report that blepharitis is commonly seen in their clinical practice in 37% and 47% of their patients, respectively, and it is widely agreed that the meibomian gland dysfunction caused by blepharitis is the most common cause of evaporative dry eye disease”.
Is the BlephEx® treatment covered by insurance?
While BlephEx® is not currently covered by insurance, it is a very affordable procedure. If you have blepharitis you will enjoy the benefits of this effective treatment. Similar to the dentist model, regular treatments are effective in preventing biofilm and bacterial build up. Along with regular eyelid hygiene this in office treatment is effective to prevent the disease from returning.