Dean McGee Eye Institute First in Oklahoma to Offer Revolutionary Dry Eye Treatment

The Dean McGee Eye Institute is the first center in Oklahoma to offer a new treatment for dry eyes that can last up to a year and frees patients from time-consuming warm compresses and lubricating eye drops. The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System combines precisely administered heat and pressure to open and clear clogged oil glands in the eyelids, allowing lubricating oils to flow naturally again.

Evaporative dry eye is a chronic condition that occurs when the water in tears evaporates faster than normal due to an insufficient oil layer in the tear film. Typically, the problem is a result of blocked oil glands in the eyelid. Without this protective layer of oils, the eyes can burn and feel dry and gritty. The condition can worsen over time and often leads to blurred vision or sensitivity to sunlight.

Traditional treatments for dry eye involve a combination of eyelid massage, warm compresses and a variety of eye drops and artificial tears applied several times a day. In contrast, the LipiFlow system treats the upper and lower eyelids simultaneously. The new treatment takes less than 15 minutes, and the effect lasts 9 to 12 months for most patients and even longer for others.

“This treatment is revolutionary, and our patients are telling us that LipiFlow is allowing them to live more normal lives,” said Dr. Alex Cohen, a corneal specialist at the Dean McGee Eye Institute and Assistant Professor in the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology. “The advantage of this new procedure is that it addresses the most common cause of dry eye. Other therapies replace the water layer of the tear film. Yet in about 80 percent of patients, the oil layer is the issue, not the water layer. Patients are carefully assessed to determine the cause of their dry eyes, and those who are candidates may choose to undergo the LipiFlow treatment.”

The LipiView diagnostic component of the system images the eye and provides the ophthalmologist with more than a billion data points in less than five minutes. The non-invasive imaging system establishes the precise thickness of the oils on the eye and determines how many oil glands are blocked. After numbing the eye[G1], the ophthalmologist uses a shell device to gently and painlessly apply heat and pressure pulses[G2] to the eyelids to open the blocked glands. In clinical studies, nearly 80 percent of patients treated with LipiFlow reported an improvement in their overall dry eye symptoms.

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