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Breakthrough dry eye treatment provides long-lasting relief

Dr Mark Yodaiken uses an innovative new technology called LipiFlow to treat dry eye disease.

The 48-year-old ex South African, who has set up the Dry Eyes Clinic in Manchester, says: “Our clinic is one of the few which exist in England and dry eye sufferers from all over have been flocking to use the treatment.”

The breakthrough approach is based on a relatively new understanding of dry eye disease. For many years there was an unclear understanding of what it actually was. Up until three or four years ago, it was thought the condition was predominantly down to a poor water layer in the eye.

It has since become clear that in 85 per cent of cases it is due to a lack of oil in the eye’s water layer which then allows water to evaporate. This was originally known as Blepharitis but is now known as Meibomian Gland Disease which leads to dry eye disease.

“Without oil, there will be a quicker evaporation in the eyes,” says Dr Yodaiken.

Dry eye sufferers should consider this revolutionary treatment if they have any of the following symptoms – gritty eyes, irritation, burning, stinging, tiredness and eye fatigue, itchy eyes, pain and redness, heavy eyelids and episodes of blurry vision.

Dr Yodaiken, who also works at the Spire and Alexandra hospitals in Manchester, in addition to the Optegra Eye Hospital in Didsbury, came across the new technology while attending a conference. He had himself suffered from dry eyes and became an advocate of the treatment after being treated with great results.

The LipiFlow machine applies gentle heat and massage to the eyelids to re-establish the normal flow of oil

“I thought it was such a breakthrough in technology that I wanted to offer it to my patients myself,” he recalls.

Dr Yodaiken explains that the main problem with dry eyes is due to a blockage in the eyelid glands.

“They basically solidify when that happens, so the glands do not secrete any natural oils into the eyes,” he says. “The disease is progressive so if left untreated will become worse with time.

“The modern thinking is that if we can unblock the glands then we can re-establish the normal flow of oil.

“The LipiFlow machine applies gentle heat and massage to the eyelids to re-establish the normal flow of oil.”

The procedure is painless and non-invasive, and with a 79 per cent success rate, the results have been clinically proven to last a year or more. When compared to other treatments currently available this is truly revolutionary. Many sufferers are using artificial tears and heat packs several times a day with little relief.

Dr Yodaiken, who was raised in Johannesburg and studied at Wits University, moved to Britain in 2005. He has practiced ophthalmology since 2000.

For the procedure, an eyepiece called the LipiFlow Activator is placed underneath the upper and lower eyelid.

It is shaped in a way that contact with the cornea is prevented and it is protected from the heat.

When this is done, the patient lies down on the treatment chair for the procedure which takes around 12 minutes per eye. Both eyes can be treated simultaneously.

In a clinical study, 32 per cent of patients reported no discomfort, while 48 per cent noted awareness of pressure without pain during the LipiFlow treatment.

The procedure, performed in the clinic’s consulting room, is virtually painless, according to Dr Yodaiken. “It is done with special technology with highly specific equipment,” he says.

“It helps us determine the oil layer’s deficiencies. We measure the oil later by interferometry, where we measure the thickness of the oil layer.”
A transilluminated meibography photograph is used to see through the tissue into the gland to ascertain if they are dilated or whether there will be tissue loss. “Through this we can assess the damage,” says Dr Yodaiken.

The treatment, which has been approved in the United States by the FDA, has proved successful in many cases and is now becoming popular here in the UK thanks to the Dry Eyes Clinic.