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Published on May 28, 2019

Gundersen offers new treatment for chronic dry eye

Angela Darveaux, OD

Angela Darveaux, OD

Many patients with chronic dry eye believe it is caused by lack of tear production, but meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the underlying cause in at least 85 percent of cases.

Gundersen Health System optometrist Angela Darveaux, OD now offer Lipiflow at Gundersen Eye Institute in La Crosse for patients who lack the natural oil component in their tears.

"Over time, the meibomian glands can become blocked, inflamed and/or atrophied. Once they are lost, they cannot be regained," explains Dr. Darveaux.

That's why she advises the sooner patients can be seen for a medical eye exam, the better protection they'll have long-term.

"The goal of Lipiflow is to restore gland function and decrease the risk of gland loss. Ideally, what we see is symptom reduction in the long-term," Dr. Darveaux adds.

Ideal candidates for Lipiflow include patients who:

  • Experience a rapid tear break-up time
  • Complain of burning, stinging, watery eyes, especially in windy conditions
  • Describe fluctuating vision with computer or digital device use
  • Are not getting the relief they want with Restasis®

Dr. Darveaux also notes, "If you have patients who are continually frustrated, even after buying the best pair of glasses, or undergoing cataract surgery or LASIK, the source of their complaint might be meibomian gland dysfunction. Ideally, we want to see these patients before surgery to 'prepare' the ocular surface, so they will be pleased with the results."

Ninety percent of patients who undergo Lipiflow see a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms about one month after the procedure. Results can last anywhere from 12 to 36 months. Home therapy is recommended.

Currently, Lipiflow is not covered by insurance. The initial exam is considered a medical exam, and patients should check with their insurance company to see if a "medical exam" is covered. Gundersen does not charge for Lipiscan. No referral needed.

For more information on Lipiflow, contact Gundersen Eye Institute via MedLink at (800) 336-5465.

Lipiflow procedure and follow-up

Lipiscan is an imager used to evaluate the meibomian gland structure in the eyelids during the patient's initial exam. Lipiflow is a non-invasive procedure that heats the glands from the inside of the eyelids and applies a gentle pressure in just under 15 minutes.

Most patients describe Lipiflow as comfortable and painless, though it is common to experience an exacerbation of symptoms around two weeks post-procedure when the corneal nerves begin to regenerate. Two months after the procedure patients are seen back in the clinic for a follow-up medical exam.

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