About 16 million adults are living with dry eye disease in the United States. It’s a condition that occurs when your tears are unable to produce adequate lubrication for your eyes, causing them to become dry and feel an itchy or burning sensation. Over-the-counter drops can provide temporary relief, but a treatment originally used to treat the skin condition rosacea is giving patients long-lasting relief.
Whether it’s acting, guitar playing, or flying, Phyllis Spielman is always up for a new challenge, but battling dry eye was not a challenge she was expecting.
“The worst thing you can have is itchy and burning eyes because it is a distraction. You could cause an accident,” Spielman explained.
When over-the-counter drops and compressions didn’t work as Spielman hoped they would, she turned to her doctor for help.
“You give somebody some artificial tears and say, ‘just lubricate your eye and you’ll be fine’, but this is an inflammatory disease," said Dr. Rolando Toyos, the founder and CEO of Toyos Clinic.
The inflammation in the meibomian eye glands is what causes insufficient tears to be produced. Doctor Toyos suggested the OptiLight treatment, which is a light-based treatment given in four sessions at two to four weeks apart.
Patients can begin to feel relief right away, and for Spielman, the treatment was a win in her book.
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“It was really painless. It was quick. There wasn’t any downtime. You wouldn’t even know that I had the treatment,” Spielman said.
Toyos said that this is the first and only FDA-approved light treatment for managing dry eye disease. After the initial four sessions, someone with severe dry eye disease may need additional treatments. Dr. Toyos also said that right after a session, patients should avoid sun exposure as the skin around their eyes will be more susceptible to sunburns.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer, Editor.