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Westlake Eye Specialists Certified Ophthalmic Assistant Michael Way performs a LipiFlow treatment on a patient with Dry Eye. Photo courtesy of  Westlake Eye Specialists

Preventative eye care in Hays County

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s what the proverb says. But Zarmeena Vendal, M.D. with Westlake Eye Specialists in Kyle, along with Michael Way, would tell you it’s true as it relates to ocular health.

These two are the only eye specialists in the county performing some revolutionary techniques which help aid in the treatment of what has become a common problem for people of all ages – Dry Eye.

“Dry Eye has been around for a long time. We used to treat just the symptoms by providing drops,” Way said.  “But today we we’re able to photograph the gland which helps us determine its health.”

Once the gland is examined, Way said it enables them to determine what kind of treatment is needed.

“If LipiFlow is needed we can administer it to patients who claim almost instant relief,” Way said.

What is LipiFlow? It’s a mechanical device Way said, where a scleral shell is inserted into the eye, just behind the lid, which heats the Meibomian Glands and massages them. Eventually, any blockage is pushed away from the gland in the eyelids. Once the obstructions are removed it allows the production of the oils which make up the protective layer of the eye.

Way said Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments are equally effective. 

IPL treatments expose an intense light onto the skin below the eye. When the light is absorbed it generates heat which melts the blockages in the Meibomian Gland as well. The positive side of the treatment is that ophthalmologist can see immediately what come out of the gland – if it’s solid or liquid - and see if the glands are functioning properly.

Way said many factors cause Dry Eye, including: age, certain medical conditions like diabetes, a patient’s environment and how long they spend at a computer, rheumatoid arthritis…even Vitamin A deficiency, to name a few.  

“We have glands in our upper and lower eyelids, roughly 40,” Way said. “As we get older we tend to lose a few. We can’t regrow glands, so the goal is to get them healthy.”

Though Lipiflow works well, Way said it’s IPL that has people talking.

“IPO treatments can be performed every six months,” Way said. “People with severe Dry Eye following the treatments have a couple of weeks of pure bliss. After they come in for their second, third and fourth treatment they ask, ‘when can I do it again?’”

Vendal said their industry has become much more proactive in looking at issues regarding ocular health.

“We’re able to image things much earlier,” she said. “Now we can image things ahead of time, before you get uncomfortable. It’s preventative care.”

Vendal said a standard exam, which most insurance providers cover at 100 percent, will reveal if a patient is a candidate for Dry Eye and if treatment is needed.

“I think it’s important to gather information ahead of time,” Vendal said. “Not years down the road when your miserable. Treat you’re eyes the way they deserve to be treated.”

San Marcos Record

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