(12/13/12) - There is a new way to treat one of the most common eye problems.
Instead of drops or drugs, this new treatment for dry eye syndrome goes right to
the source of the problem - and cleans it out.
Every blink of the eye brought pain for Diana Galson-Kooy. "I felt like I had a piece of glass in my eye."
Diana has suffered with dry eye disease for years. "I've kind of gotten used to the pain."
Dry eye syndrome is caused by things like prolonged contact lens wear, birth control, anti-histamines, and even staring at a computer screen. These can all affects the glands in the eyes that make tears.
"Her tears that she's making are leaving her eyes much quicker than she should be," says Dr. Ernest Kornmehl.
Like Diana, Kornmehl says the majority of his patients come in for dry eye treatments. For many of them, he's now recommending Lipiflow.
"It takes 12 minutes and patients go to work immediately after the procedure," Kornmehl says.
During the procedure, small cups are placed over the eyelids surrounding them. The cups heat up and pulsate to melt blockages in the tear glands.
"It doesn't hurt. It just is strange," Diana says.
In and FDA trial, 79 percent of Lipiflow patients showed improvement. The doctor says those improvements can last nine to 15 months. While some patients, like Diana, end up needing repeat treatments.
Kornmehl says most patients, "find themselves not taking the drops or ointments as they were before."
Diana noticed a difference right away. "My eyes feel lubricated. It is unbelievable."
Lipiflow is FDA approved, but it's not covered by insurance. It is also expensive. The cost per eye can range between $700 and $1,100.
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