BlephEx: Advanced, Office-Based Procedure for Chronic Eyelid Irritation & Dry Eye
By MING WANG, MD, PhD
A breakthrough technology, BlephEX® is now available to treat chronic dry eyes and eyelid infection (blepharitis). Wang Vision 3D Cataract & LASIK Center was among the first in the state to introduce the treatment system, which has corporate offices in nearby Franklin.
Blepharitis is a common condition affecting the eyelids. Symptoms of blepharitis may include redness, irritation, itching, crusting, matting, dry eye, and foreign body sensation affecting the eyelids or the eyes. It can lead to fluctuation and intermittent blurred vision. Epidemiology research has indicated that 86 percent of people with dry eye have concurrent blepharitis. Over 25 million people in the United States are affected by the condition.
There are many different causes of blepharitis, but all result in irritation and a mild chronic infection of the eyelids. Blepharitis is generally caused by excess bacterial flora along the eyelids with the most common offender being Staphylococcus aureus. Small parasitic mites called demodex can also lead to this condition. Infestation of and waste products from infectious bacteria and ocular mites can cause blockage of the eyelid follicles and glands, resulting in a chronic inflammatory response.
The mild chronic infection leads to scurf or crusting along the eyelids. Because the eyelids can be difficult to clean, the bacteria create a biofilm, similar to plaque on teeth. This biofilm creates a safe harbor for the organisms, which can lead to chronic inflammation and result in a destruction of the delicate eyelid structures. Long term, this destroys the integrity of the meibomian glands - oil glands that vertically line the eyelids - leading to poor tear production and chronic dry eye.
Traditional treatments for blepharitis include at home therapies targeted at cleaning the eyelid margin with gentle cleansers such as OcuSoft cleansers, or baby shampoo. Patients are directed to apply a small amount and gently massage along the eyelids for about 15 seconds, one to two times daily. Patients generally see improvements in treatment of the condition if they are diligent about completing the home therapy. Much like dental flossing, the benefits can be significant, but it does take dedication and habit forming.
Recent advancements in treatment condition indicate office treatments have more effect than at home remedies, as complete cleaning and patient compliance can be a significant issue. The in-office cleaning procedure called BlephEx is a new and effective treatment for blepharitis. With BlephEx, trained office staff can eliminate the buildup of bacteria and parasites along the eyelids, using a small, sterile sponge that is first soaked in a gentle eyelid cleanser. The eyelids are then microexfoliated by a special instrument that rotates at 3,000 times per minute to debride the biofilm.
The treatment is fast, taking about six to eight minutes. It is non-invasive and painless, with most patients simply report a tickling sensation along the eyelids. Patients can resume all normal activities immediately following the treatment. Side effects are very mild and could include mild redness or irritation of the eyelids, which would last less than 24 hours. For most, no side effects occur and relief is obtained almost instantaneously. An initial treatment will often provide significant relief that can be equal to several weeks of diligent home therapy. Results will last differently depending on severity of the condition. Similar to dental hygiene, buildup will reoccur. In-office treatments are recommended every three to six months, followed with regular at home treatments to maintain the surface and control the condition.
This treatment can often be a very beneficial solution for patients suffering from chronic eyelid irritation or dry eye. Often, these patients have exhausted a significant amount of over-the-counter and prescription treatments without finding sufficient relief. The deep cleaning of the eyelids can help the get the production of tears into a healthy equilibrium, and many patients see significant improvement not realized with other treatments.
The procedure is not covered by insurance, but the cost is low in comparison to many alternative treatment options, and patients generally report the benefits worth the out of pocket expenses.
Dr. Ming Wang, Harvard & MIT (MD, magna cum laude); PhD (laser physics), is the CEO of Aier-USA, director of Wang Vision 3D Cataract & LASIK Center, and one of the few laser eye surgeons to hold a doctorate degree in laser physics. He has performed more than 55,000 procedures, including on over 4,000 on doctors. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go online to wangcataractLASIK.com.