New treatment brings 'tear' to patients' eyes

LipiFlow cures blockages, relieves dry eyes

Published On: Dec 31 2012 06:31:50 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 31 2012 06:32:41 PM EST
Fighting dry eye
DETROIT -

Tired of suffering from dry eyes?

It’s a problem for millions of people and a new treatment might bring some relief – but it’s not in the form of an eye drop.

Diana Glason-Kooy suffered for years with dry, irritated eyes.

“It felt like I had a piece of glass in my eye,” she said.

The problem is caused by a variety of factors, including prolonged contact lens wear, birth control, anti-histamines and staring at a computer or smart phone for too long.

Dr. Ernest Kornmehl says for patients like Diana, he’s now recommending something new: LipiFlow.

“It takes 12 minutes and patients go to work immediately after the procedure,” Kornmehl said.

Cups surround the eyelids, heat up, pulsate and melt blockages in tear glands.

“It doesn’t hurt. It just is strange,” said Diana.

In FDA trials, 79 percent of Lipiflow patients showed improvements.

Kornmehl said the improvements can last nine to 15 months. Some LipiFlow patients might still need additional treatments.

LipiFlow is available at a few centers across the country.

The downside is cost. It’s FDA approved but not covered by insurance. The cost per eye can range from $700 to $1,100.