A RENAISSANCE FOR THE EYES – LIPIFLOW
It seems like everyone these days is talking about Lipiflow. Could you say a few words about these new medical developments, and then go into details?
The new movement in medicine is not only to cure, but to prevent. If you look at humanity from a bird’s eye point of view, our life expectancy continues to grow. There have been periods of time in the past where it was only 20 to 30 years old. But with the invention of antibiotics, chemotherapy, bioengineering, and other powerful drugs, things have changed. This is even in the last 10 years. Today, diseases previously considered to be a death sentence are treatable.
What we used to only treat, now we can cure. Five years ago, melanoma was a terrifying diagnosis, but now genetic testing and immunotherapy is underway in which we can reconfigure the body’s immunity to “wake up” and kill tumors, including metastases. There are huge advances in all areas of medicine.
What’s at the core of this new trend?
We can sum it up by saying, “Why wait for the disease to come, when you can prevent it?” Cells, as you know, eventually die. Cells that don’t die on schedule are the bad ones, the “eternal” cancer cells. They lack so-called “contact inhibition”, which controls their replication and growth when in contact with their neighbors. In a tumor, this mechanism is absent, but what if it could be regulated – could that prove useful? Theoretically, death would cease to be inevitability.
Would one get exhausted of living eternally?
Everything gets exhausted. But more and more often we succeed at preventing illnesses. Let’s look at human life from ages 0 to 20. Everything evolves, grows, and regenerates. Between 20 and 30, athletes reach their peak capabilities. And from 30 to 40, everything is usually ok and nothing hurts too bad. But after that, all kinds of age-related diseases set in. In my area of expertise, this includes cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetic retinopathy. Even those who play sports at an advanced age sometimes damage their ligaments, and thus we have a paradox. Exercise is important, but it is also good not to because it can wear out the body.
You can’t escape aging. Cataracts got me at 46, quite independently of exercise or sport.
Scientists are now showing interest in what they call Lifestyle Medicine. How can we slow the aging process using pills, treatments, and other means? What can be done with such a seemingly natural process like cell death? At a certain point, new cells wear out and cannot recover. One of the methods they are using against that is called thermopulse. We repeatedly state that the surface of the eye, including the conjunctiva and cornea, depends on tears. The eyes must be constantly receiving hydration, which in turn depends on the health of all adjacent organs. With age, this mechanism starts to break down. The tears produced are of low quality and that is bad for eyesight.
This is purely a product of aging?
There are very few 15-20 year olds that have dry eyes or blepharitis, or even allergies, so it’s rare to see them with red eyes (unless they are high). They rarely complain that their eyes are itchy. All of these symptoms usually appear after 40. Even after 40, though, it turns out this can be prevented!
What can be done so that all these sophisticated cells and glands continue working at 50, 60, or even 80?
Let’s go back to thermopulsation in ophthalmology. It’s a 15-minute procedure that’s performed in the office under doctor supervision. This new machine, which we’ve already mentioned, is called the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System. It uses disposable activators that are placed on the eyes. And what do they do? They warm the eyelid inside and out, as well as clean out the glands using pulsations. The rids the glands of everything that has accumulated over the years, including dried secretions and cells that have lost their function, which only serve to get in the way.
Is the procedure painful?
Patients actually say that it’s kinda pleasant, and ask, “Can we keep going?” The result is a complete rejuvenation of the glands and cells within 1-2 weeks. Now, the product that these cells produce is new, fresh, and clean. The function of the glands becomes more efficient and affects the health of the entire eye. The patients not only feel better, but also have less eye fatigue, have no desire to rub their eyes, and they don’t have to blink to see something more sharply. In other words, the symptoms go away entirely.
Are they considered “healed”?
It’s necessary to understand that this isn’t a permanent cure. The procedure has to be repeated at least once a year. We use the machine on 5-6 patients every day and have about 4 months of experience doing so. Hundreds of patients have gone through it and univocally say that it works. The eyes feel younger and vision improves. We also recommend LipiFlow to people before or after cataract surgery. We refresh and clean their view of the world so they can see the beauty all around them. I think they’ll come back within a year on their own and say, “Let’s do it again!” This process also helps those who have noticed a deterioration after operation on the same cataract a few years prior, or even many years ago.
Can LipiFlow help my glaucoma?
No, the machine cannot treat glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy. They won’t feel dry, though, and you can skip the irritation, redness, and itching.
Are there any external changes?
With LipiFlow, the eyes appear more alive and have a shine to them. It’s a clear look, like the eyes have become younger, and they look different than those that have become dull. It’s a hard thing to measure in units, but everyone notices. They not only feel better but look better, too.
WHAT’S THE BEAUTY OF LIPIFLOW?
How does warming the eyelid produce such a strong effect?
Using hot compresses will not work. The body protects itself from more extreme measures. If it’s hot or cold outside, the body works to maintain a normal temperature. Therefore, when you start to heat something, circulation increases there to help reduce it. Since the glands in the eyelid are located toward the back, a hot compress can’t access the deeper tissues, even if it’s done with special masks.
So in other words it falls short?
Yes. You’ll feel the heat on your skin, but the places that need the warmth remain untouched. If you compensate with more heat, then it will start to warm the eye, as well, and that’s dangerous. The beauty of Lipiflow lies in the fact that eyes don’t heat up more than .1°, but the eyelid and glands themselves reach 111°. The machine maintains the perfect temperature, as shown in a study 20 years ago. There were no machines capable of it at that time, though. It’s at this temperature that the secretions melt and flow out of the glands, and the pulsations gently massage them. The outgoing secretions also carry away dead and outdated cells. As you might guess, the machine and activators are very expensive, being able to provide heat in the right places, at the right temperature, and at the right time. This 12-15 minutes isn’t the end of the procedure, though; it’s the beginning of a 2-3 week process. At BEI, we’ve therefore developed a unique protocol. We give you special drops to use 2-3 times a day, as well as ointments and other substances to clean and wipe the eyelids with. You can aid in this rejuvenation process at home, and it’s easy to do.
This protocol is unique to BEI?
I don’t think there are many places doing the same. We had a patient who underwent the procedure in a different city and then with us, and our results were much better.
Do people sometimes suffer from dry eyes, but without symptoms?
We don’t perform this procedure on just anyone. Yes, sometimes a patient doesn’t feel the damaged glands until it’s hit a critical mass. This is exactly what I was talking about. If you wait until symptoms appear, then it may be too late to help. The LipiFlow machine has an infrared camera that analyzes if the cells and glands can be saved. More often than not, we can help.
Photo: Amanda Djalbörn / Unsplash.com