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Dry eyes get help in minutes with new treatment

December 18, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Dry eyes can be caused by a few things, but usually it's a lack of adequate tears.

Tears are a complex mixture of water, fatty oils, and mucus. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear, and it helps protect your eyes from infection.

The standard treatment for dry eye disease involves medications, daily eye drops and ointments. But now, a new option can help dry eyes in minutes.

Diana Galson-Kooy has suffered with dry eye disease for years.

"I felt like I had a piece of glass in my eye," she said. "I've kind of gotten used to the pain."

Caused by things like prolonged contact lens wear, birth control, anti-histamines, and even staring at a screen, evaporative dry eye affects the glands that make tears.

"Her tears that she's making are leaving her eyes much quicker than they should be," said Dr. Ernest Kornmehl.

Kornmehl says, like Galson-Kooy, the majority of his patients come in for dry eye treatments. For many, he's now recommending LipiFlow.

"It takes 12 minutes and patients go to work immediately after the procedure," said Kornmehl.

Cups surround the eyelids. They heat up and pulsate to melt blockages in her tear glands. Galson-Kooy says the treatment does not hurt, but it does feel "strange."

In an FDA trial, 79 percent of LipiFlow patients showed improvement. The doctor says those improvements can last nine to 15 months.

Some LipiFlow patients, like Galson-Kooy, will still need additional treatments. But others have different outcomes.

"They find themselves not taking the drops or ointments as they were before," said Kornmehl.

LipiFlow is FDA approved, but it is not covered by insurance. The cost per eye can range between $700 and $1100.


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