What is thermal pulsation?
Thermal pulsation (LipiFlow) consists of the localised application of heat and therapeutic pressure on the four eyelids (upper and lower) with the aim of improving drainage of the Meibomian glands. These glands are responsible for providing the tears with oil to prevent evaporation and ensure good quality.
In which cases is it used?
LipiFlow is used to treat Meibomian gland dysfunction, related to blepharitis (inflammation) of the lower eyelids and ocular dryness. It is, in fact, the most common cause of dry eye, which is estimated to affect about 85% of patients with this disorder.
It usually affects elderly people, patients with hormonal disorders (adolescence and menopause), contact lens wearers due to overuse or those who have undergone skin disease treatment or chemotherapy.
Full optometric and ophthalmic examination, in addition to complementary tests that the specialist may request. This is the case, for example, of meibography, in which an anatomical image of the Meibomian glands is taken to determine correct functioning, specify diagnosis and enable subsequent assessment of the effectiveness of treatment.
The application of thermal pulsation takes 12 minutes and is performed in the consulting room under topical anaesthesia (drops) to prevent any possible discomfort for the patient.
The LipiFlow system consists of a monitor that shows the parameters of the treatment and a sterile single-use piece that is placed over the eye, which is designed to protect the cornea and is equipped with multiple sensors that enable the temperature and pressure supplied to be controlled.
This piece provides heat (42.5°C) to the inside and outside of the eyelids, and massages from its outer side to release Meibomian gland obstructions and enable the secretion of the oil necessary to maintain tear quality.
The treatment makes it possible to recover the stability of the tear film and reduce its evaporation, inflammation and damage to the ocular surface, thereby improving the patient’s symptoms.
It has proven to be more effective than the conventional application of hot swabs to the eyes to take care of eyelid hygiene, although they are not exclusive. It is also necessary to perform daily maintenance at home (see tips (new)) between sessions, usually repeated at 9 or 12 months, depending on the severity of the process.