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Is There a Cure? Pros and Cons of Latest Dry Eye Technologies

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Reviewed by Nymark M, PhD on November 7, 2016

As more people across the globe find themselves suffering from the various problems associated with dry eye syndrome, it’s worth noting that there has been a lot of changes in the state of dry eye diagnosis and treatment over the recent years. New solutions for this form of medical issue are emerging on a regular basis, from a better understanding of the human eye in general, to technology that allows us to obtain a clearer image of what might be causing dry eye related problems.

For instance, the latest MiBo technology allows us to project a light map over a patient’s eye so as to fully assess the quality of the tear film and determine the level of dry eye discomfort that a particular person is facing at any given time. In the following, we will address some of the positive and negative factors associated with the latest technology used for dry eye sufferers.

The Keratograph 5M

One of the latest forms of technology used in doctors’ offices across the country today is the Keratograph 5M. This was designed by Oculus, and it is a corneal topographer, capable of conducting a wide range of different dry eye tests, including a noninvasive approach to tear break-up time. The system provides a useful map of what is taking place in terms of tear-breakup, including how long the substance breaks up, the average break-up time, and other similar factors. For a patient, this is particularly impressive as it shows a deeper insight into the concerns that are typically associated with the issue of dry eye. At the same time, the device is often credited with bringing the practice of meibography to the masses.

Meibography is particularly important in today’s world because most patients aren’t aware of why they actually need their Meibomian glands, or what the purpose of those glands might actually be. This is a very good turning point for people to understand why they are suffering from the usual dry eye symptoms. One problem with this process, however, is that the patient will need to keep his or her eye open for a long period of time, which can be quite difficult for someone who is already struggling with the symptoms of dry eye.

Pros:

  • Run by techs
  • Low cost
  • Unlimited uses
  • Non-invasive

Cons:

  • Time consuming
  • Somewhat uncomfortable for some patients
  • Not covered by insurance

The LipiFlow Technology

LipiFlow is a form of dry eye related technology designed by Tear Science. Simply put, it’s a product that goes over and under the eyelid to heat and massage the eyelids and thus offer a solution to Meibomian gland disease. For many people, this represents a way to unblock and unclog the Meibomian glands. Blockage of the glands reduce the proper flow of oils into the natural tear production, which is necessary to keep our eyes lubricated. It is also a far better and more long term solution to this form of dry eye than simply using regular warm compresses.

Pros:

  • It is 79% effective
  • It was developed by professionals
  • Does not cause any corneal distortion
  • Only moderately invasive

Cons:

  • It is not a full cure for Meibomian gland disease. In fact, repeat treatments are needed.
  • Initial and disposable costs are quite high
  • Not covered by insurance
  • Not always as good as other treatments

Tear Science is currently lowering the price of the device, and will not require certain companies to buy the diagnostic service that comes with it. However, it is still a quite expensive way to treat dry eye problems. Despite this, many experts regard this solution to be a fantastic game charger and that is why it’s implemented by practices across the country. Clinical trials have shown that a proper treatment with LipiFlow can actually provide dry eye relief for periods of up to 18 months at a time.

MiboFlow Treatment

The MiboFlow Treatment for dry eyes works by applying 108 degrees Fahrenheit heat to the outer lid, but not the inner lid. Research has found that this approach has helped to improve Meibomian gland secretions over the control eye, but there has been no symptomatic improvement for some people. Different patients experience the Miboflow treatment in different ways, but it’s generally recommended as a less expensive alternative to LipiFlow.

The pros of this treatment are:

  • It is not as expensive as LipiFlow
  • It does not cause corneal distortion
  • It is only moderately invasive

The cons of this treatment are:

  • Research and supporting data are somewhat lacking
  • It is not covered by insurance

Imflammadry Dry Eye Treatment

Inflammadry is a diagnostic point-of-care device from RPS that works by taking a tear sample from a patient and testing for inflammation. Many people describe this option for diagnostics as being similar to a pregnancy test, as you simply wait ten minutes and then look at the results. There is an available control line, and if you have an accurate sample it should provide a pink line if you find that inflammation within the patient is over a specific threshold.

The pros include:

  • This diagnostic test is covered by insurance
  • It is run by highly effective techs
  • It is minimally invasive

The cons are:

  • There are no current algorithms
  • The results can be difficult to read
  • Each test can only be used once

Sjo Diagnostic Test

Many people are beginning to ask whether Sjogren’s syndrome could be the latest form of dry eye disease. Sjo is a form of diagnostic test that requires the use of a small blood sample in order to identify patients with this specific condition. The vast majority of patients that eye doctors see with dry eye today suffer from both dry eye and dry mouth, so it can be worth screening patients as much as possible, and asking them how often they experience fatigue, joint pain and dryness throughout the body.

The pros are:

  • It is covered by insurance
  • It is run by profesisonals

The cons are:

  • Highly invasive
  • Very expensive
  • Expensive for the patient with no profit margin for doctors

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