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Posted on 04-04-2017
BlephEx® is a new, in-office procedure used to treat some types of dry eye and blepharitis. BlephEx® works by removing excess bacteria and toxins that live along the lash margin that are the main causes of inflammatory dry eye and lid disease. The treatment involves a patented spinning micro-sponge that exfoliates along the edge of your eyelid and lashes, removing scurf and debris that leads to chronic inflammation. The procedure lasts 6-8 minutes and is well-tolerated. After the procedure, regular lid hygiene and cleaning is recommended for maintenance in between treatments. The procedure is typically repeated at 4-6 month intervals.
1. How does BlephEx® work?
BlephEx® is a doctor’s treatment performed in the office that removes the source of inflammation by cleaning off the biofilm from the lid margin, like a dentist removing plaque during a teeth cleaning. This biofilm is produced by the normal bacteria living on the lid margin, so it will eventually return to cause inflammation again, so the treatment should be repeated every 4 to 6 months.
2. Am I a Candidate for BlephEx®?
If you suffer from one or more of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from blepharitis:
Itching or scratchy eyes
Foreign body sensation
Blepharitis can only be diagnosed by your eye doctor. There are several conditions which may affect the severity of blepharitis such as dry eye disease, allergies, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, age, contact lens wear, poor immune status, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s disease, and androgen deficiency. If left untreated, blepharitis can lead to directly or indirectly to a number of eyelid diseases such as:
Contact Lens Intolerance
Dry Eye Syndrome
3. Does insurance cover the cost?
No, BlephEx® is a brand new treatment for dry eye and is not covered by insurance. It is a private pay procedure but will typically be less expensive than a years’ worth of prescription drops, artificial tears, ointments, copays, etc, that have little to no effect on your disease.
4. How soon will I notice a difference?
It really depends on the stage of your blepharitis/dry eye disease and how many years you have had it. Many patients feel a difference before they leave the doctors practice. But if you have sustained significant damage to your tear glands, it may take months before you notice a difference. Some people need multiple treatments before they begin to feel better. Vigilance and repeat treatments are the key to treating, curing and then preventing recurrence.
5. How common is blepharitis or dry eye disease?
It has been estimated that up to 2/3 of all patients walking into an eye doctor’s office have some level of lid margin disease.
6. How many times should I have the BlephEx® procedure performed?
Just like the mouth is full of bacteria and needs constant and regular hygiene to prevent gingivitis, so do the eyelids need constant and regular hygiene to prevent blepharitis and dry eye disease. It is recommended that BlephEx® be repeated every 4 months for an active disease, and every 6 months for contact lens wearers. This keeps the number of bacteria to a minimum, and helps prevent a reformation of the biofilm. If the treatments are stopped, the biofilm will reform, the chronic inflammation will return, and the tear glands will once again be damaged.
7. Does BlephEx® hurt?
Your doctor will put in numbing drops which make the treatment very well tolerated. Most patients report a tickling sensation, but no pain. The harder your doctor presses on your lids during the treatment, the MORE comfortable the treatment will be!
8. Will BlephEx® treatment interfere with my glaucoma medicines?
No, it is recommended you continue all of your other drops that any eye doctor has you on.
9. Can I perform BlephEx® at home?
No, due to the close proximity of the eye, BlephEx® is only to be performed by a professional eye care specialist or trained staff, in an office or hospital setting.
10. I wear contact lenses. Should I have a BlephEx® procedure on my eyelids?
Absolutely yes. Contact lens wearers are 10 times more likely to develop an early biofilm and will get inflammatory damage to their tear glands much earlier in life. Having regular BlephEx® treatments performed every 6 months will keep your tear glands healthy and help you avoid a condition known as "Contact Lens Intolerance", a condition in which the eye begins to reject the wear of a contact lens due to constant exposure to the inflammatory factors of the biofilm.
11. Are there any side effects?
The main side effect is that your eyes are going to feel better than they have felt in years. You just had a 30, 40, 50, even 60-year-old biofilm removed from your eyelids. You will finally be able to blink more easily without your lids feeling sticky. Most patients say that they feel a slight irritation afterwards along with a little bit of redness that typically resolves within a few minutes or hours.
Contact us to schedule an appointment in our Woodbridge or Springfield/Burke office locations for a consult with our oculoplastic ophthalmologist, Eric Ahn, MD, for an eyelid evaluation.
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