Medical Minute 4-7: Lighting Up Dry Eye Off-Label

By: Melissa Medalie Email
By: Melissa Medalie Email

Nancie March hopes a five-minute procedure fixes her ten-year problem with dry eye.

"It's painful. It really gets painful," she said.

"We're seeing more of dry eye for several reasons, first of all, everything from environmental pollutants to ocular surgeries such as LASIK," said Joseph Eviatar, M.D., Medical Director Chelsea Eye and Cosmetic Surgery Associates.

Ophthalmologist Joseph Eviatar is using intense pulsed light therapy or IPL to treat dry eye.

"The applicator is just put in along the lid margin. We generally do two passes," said Joseph Eviatar, M.D.

The light acts as a warm compress that unplugs glands, allowing tears to flow. It also reduces the inflammation.

"So unlike just using supplemental drops, which really doesn't treat the condition, it just helps with the symptoms. The light therapy actually helps the cause of dry eye," said Dr. Eviatar.

In one study of 100 patients who didn't respond to drops or other treatments, all reported some relief from light therapy, and it lasted for four to six months. Doctors say patients typically need four treatments over the course of a year. Each one costs about 250 dollars. Susan Tompkin says that's less than she was paying for the drops she used six times a day, which still didn't relieve the problem.

"Like you've just come off the beach and someone kicked sand in your face, that was really the feeling I had. It's scratchy. They burn. They're red," said Susan Tompkin.

She's had two light treatments so far.

"I began to certainly feel a difference within a few weeks and I didn't need to get up every hour to put drops in."

She can now sit still, focus and finish her cross-stitch without the constant interruption.

"It's nice to do and not have to think about my eyes," Tompkin said.

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