Millions of people suffer from dry eye, but now a new, non-invasive procedure promises to soothe their irritated eyes.
Valerie James spends nine hours a day reading for work and it often hurts her eyes. "Sometimes it itches, sometimes you have a sensitivity to light, and sometimes it's painful," she said.
She suffers from a condition called "dry eye." She used drops up to five times a day to keep them moist, but that wasn't enough. She's hoping a recently approved FDA procedure called Lipiflow can help. The device applies heat and pressure to the inside of the eyelids, unclogging the oil glands that are needed to keep her tears from drying up.
"They tend to get plugged, they tend to get obstructed and so then none of the oil comes out on the surface," said Dr. Rex Hamilton, Director of UCLA's Laser and Refractive Center.
Dr. Hamilton says the problem is worse for many dry-eye suffers because they don't shut their eyes completely when they blink. "The oil and the tears are sitting down here on the lower lid," he said. "So if we are partially blinking, we're not accessing the tears."
Millions of people suffer with dry eye, especially older women, laser-eye surgery patients and people with diets low in Vitamin A or omega 3 fatty acids.
Doctors recommend taking a break from reading, keeping your computer below eye level, wearing glasses on windy days and using a humidifier.
The procedure has to be done in a doctor's office and takes just 12 minutes. Valerie already notices a difference after one treatment. "It doesn't feel dry at all--the left eye."
And to keep seeing that relief, she'll need to repeat the procedure every nine months.
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