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7 Healthcast

Procedure relieves chronic dry eye

BOSTON (WHDH) -- More and more people are affected by what's called 'chronic dry eye'.

Doctors blame long hours on smart phones, computers and tablets.

But there's a new, 12-minute procedure giving patients much-needed relief.

"It feels like sand paper in your eye or like somebody has a hair dryer on high blowing right in your eye," said Christine Dietz.

55-year-old Christine Dietz says her eyes were so dry, she could feel it in her sleep.

"It never stops. It feels like there is not a drop of fluid in your eye. When you blink, you can feel your eye lid going down your eye," said Dietz.

Dietz says she tried drops and hot compresses, but nothing worked.

Her optometrist, Alan Glazier, said like many people suffering from dry eye, clogged glands in her eye lids caused the problems.

So he recommended something new a procedure to clean out those glands.

"Lipiflow is non surgical and it doesn't use any radiation or anything, It just uses heat," said Dr. Glazier

The Lipiflow machine attaches to the eyes and for six minutes, generates heat - about 100 degrees - into the glands in the eye lid. Then for two minutes, the machine pulsates -- trying to squeeze out any oil clogging those glands. it repeats that six-minute process one more time so the whole procedure takes 12 minutes.

"It very much is like cleaning out your eye lids," said Dr. Glazier.

Glazier said patients typically see results in about three weeks, but need to repeat the procedure every year.

He said it's the best remedy for a problem that's on the rise.

He blames long hours staring at computers, smart phones and tablets.

"Our digital world does havoc on our eyes. One of the things we don't do when we're staring at a screen is blink as much, so the tears have a greater opportunity to evaporate," said Dr. Glazier.

Christine Dietz said she still spends plenty of time on her computer and phone, but with a little more comfort.

"I went right back to work. No pain to it. It took me probably about two months before I started feeling real results. It's just a world of difference," said Dietz.

The lipa-flow procedure is expensive.

It costs about $1,700 for both eyes and insurance does not cover it.