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What Is iLux & How Does It Treat Dry Eye?

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Person receiving ilux dry eye treatment

When you think of dry eye disease, you should also think of your tear film. 

Your tear film is at the center of your eye comfort—it hydrates and soothes your eyes while also protecting them from bacteria with the help of multiple unique ingredients. One of these ingredients is oil produced by your meibomian glands, which are located along the edges of your eyelids.

The oil layer of the tear film is super important. It functions to protect the tear film and boost the tear quality. When the oil production is functioning properly, tears do not evaporate as quickly and it helps to keep the tears very slippery. Since the oil layer of the tear film is the outermost layer of the tears and it functions to support all the other tear layers, we can not overstress its importance in the dryness equation.  

Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of dry eye disease is meibomian gland dysfunction, also known as MGD. In fact, this condition is so common that some studies suggest that it’s responsible for 85% of all dry eye cases.

Because of how widespread MGD is amongst dry eye patients, we’ve adopted numerous strategies to help promote oil production from your meibomian glands, support your tear film, and soothe your dry eye symptoms. One of which is iLux, a heat therapy treatment specifically designed to help address MGD-related dry eye, and we’re proud to offer it as part of our dry eye therapy services.

But how does iLux work? And what can it do to treat your dry eye symptoms? 

Every patient is different, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to treating dry eye. Still, by booking an appointment and visiting our team at Specialty Eye, we can develop a personalized strategy to help manage your dry eye symptoms.

Let’s take a look at how iLux can help treat dry eye, or you can get started on finding help by booking an appointment today!

How Your Tear Film Supports Your Eye Comfort

Before diving into iLux treatment, we first need to understand how your tear film works.

Your tear film is a layer of tears that covers the outer area of your eye. It is made of 3 different ingredients, each with a special role in maintaining your eye comfort:

  • Mucus, produced in part by your conjunctiva, keeps your tear film fastened and spread evenly across your eye surface.
  • Water, produced by your lacrimal glands, keeps your eyes hydrated while protecting them from bacteria.
  • Oil, produced by your meibomian glands, seals in your tear film and prevents it from evaporating.

If there is an imbalance between these ingredients, you may develop dry eye symptoms. We can separate the type of dry eye you have into either evaporative dry eye or aqueous tear deficiency, which can occur when there is a lack of oil or water in your tear film, respectively.

Enter Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

Meibomian gland dysfunction is a condition that blocks or clogs your meibomian glands, affecting the oil content needed to prevent your tears from evaporating.

MGD can occur for a variety of reasons, even when you don’t blink enough. Whenever you’re focused on a task, like working on a computer or reading, your eyes may tend to blink less. When you blink less, your meibomian glands don’t get the stimulus it needs to secrete oils into your tear film, resulting in oils getting clogged.

MGD can also occur alongside another condition called blepharitis. Blepharitis can cause inflammation in your eyelids and create a crusty discharge at the base of your eyelashes. When these issues develop, you can experience a number of dry eye symptoms.

There are many ways our team can help treat and manage MGD, but the overall goal of these treatments is to soothe inflammation and melt away blockages in your meibomian glands.

This is where iLux treatment may be able to help.

Woman rubbing her eyes

Let’s Look at iLux

iLux is a handheld device that uses heat and gentle massaging to melt blockages in your meibomian glands and encourage oils to flow more freely to your tear film.

Here’s what you can expect from an iLux session:

  • Your doctor will place your eyelid in between the soft treatment pads of the iLux device. 
  • The device will then apply heat using light for a few minutes to help loosen blockages inside your meibomian glands. 
  • Your doctor can apply more heat or pressure depending on your needs and comfort.

The entire treatment only takes between 8 to 12 minutes to complete with no downtime—you can get back to your day immediately after your treatment.

However, we may recommend multiple treatment sessions over the course of a few months to address more severe types of MGD. Still, most patients start to experience some relief in about a month of treatment.

We may also provide additional treatment strategies based on your symptoms, including prescription medication, over-the-counter eye drops, or other in-office treatments.

Researchers Agree: iLux Is Effective for Treating MGD

Many patients experience significant improvements to their eye comfort after having iLux treatment, and some studies suggest that results are similar to LipiFlow, another heat therapy treatment we offer at Specialty Eye.

However, not all people respond to treatments the same way. If you’re struggling with dry eye and want a personalized strategy for achieving the soothing eye comfort you deserve, give our team a call today to book your appointment.

Written by Dr. David Kading

Dr. Kading is active in various dry eye, contact lens, and contact lens solution research studies, and is a consultant and key opinion leader for several eye care manufacturers. He writes articles and has performed hundreds of lectures nationally and internationally on the topics of keratoconus, irregular corneas, dry eye, anterior segment disease, contact lenses, contact lens solutions, and practice management.

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