Written by: Alex, Published: 27 February 2020
Targeted to help treat adults suffering from obstructive meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), LipiFlow is an eye care treatment specifically designed to eliminate the initial cause for dry eyes instead of suppressing the symptoms. The LipiFlow procedure is becoming the go-to treatment for MGD with studies confirming its reliable and effective results. 86% of people suffering from dry eyes have symptoms caused by MGD.
Meibomian is a type of gland in the eyelid, which produces oils onto the surface of the eye to keep it lubricated and stop tears from evaporating immediately. There are around 25 to 40 meibomian glands in the upper lid and 20 to 30 in the lower lid.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction occurs when the glands in the eyelid become blocked or a certain abnormality forms, which results in oil not being produced enough to protect and maintain a healthy tear film. The tear film has three layers and covers your ocular surface (outer layer of the cornea, the tears, the conjunctiva, and the margin of the eyelids). It is responsible for our everyday visual comfort, but if the tear film becomes compromised, the eye surface can be easily irritated with symptoms such as:
Anyone can develop the condition, but studies show it is more common for a women and if you are age 40+. You are also more prone to getting MGD if you have diabetes/oily skin conditions.
LipiFlow is a heated pulsation method, which uses a machine to safely and comfortably deliver heat at a temperature of 42.5°C into the inner eyelid, and pressure to the outer eyelid surfaces at the same time. They work together to help loosen and liquefy hardened lipids causing any blockage in the meibomian glands. Once the blockage has been eliminated, glands can function properly and produce the oil required to lubricate the eyes. The procedure involves no discomfort, takes roughly 20 minutes to perform on both eyes and has been described by patients as a gentle eye massage.
You will need an eye examination before the LipiFlow procedure can take place which is usually done at a consultation using LipiView®. This is an instrument used to observe the tear film using digital images. The whole examination takes roughly around 10 minutes and determines whether or not you can have LipiFlow. On some occasions, the LipiFlow procedure can be performed on the same day if you are suitable for it.
If you are suffering from similar symptoms to meibomian gland dysfunction, there are also other treatments available to suppress the irritating feelings, such as MiBo Thermoflo™. Like LipiFlow, MiBo Thermoflo™ is a non-invasive treatment which gives immediate relief from dry eye syndrome.
The LipiFlow treatment isn't available within the NHS as of yet. But you can receive treatment from other private sector clinics in the UK. Prices vary from around £400 to £1000, depending on if you need one or both eyes treated.