Purpose: To evaluate the safety and efficacy of an original warm moist air device on tear functions and ocular surface of patients with simple meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Methods: Fifteen patients with simple MGD and 20 healthy volunteers were recruited in an initial prospective interventional clinical trial to evaluate the safety and short-term effects of the warm moist air device. The device was applied to the eyes of the subjects for 10 minutes. Temperatures of the eye lids and corneas were measured with an infrared thermometer. Symptoms of ocular fatigue were scored using visual analog scales (VASs). Schirmer test, tear film break-up time (BUT), DR-1 tear film lipid layer interferometry, fluorescein staining, and rose bengal staining were also performed before and after the application of the eye steamer. After the initial study, another 2-week prospective clinical trial was carried out in 10 patients with MGD who received the warm moist air treatment. Ten other patients were also recruited and received warm compress treatment with hot towels for 2 weeks to evaluate the long-term effects of the warm moist air device and the warm compresses on tear film lipid layer thickness and ocular surface health. The warm moist air device and the warm compresses were applied for 10 minutes twice a day. The changes in VAS scores for symptoms, BUT values, fluorescein, and rose bengal staining scores were examined before and after each treatment during the second trial.
Results: VAS scores of ocular fatigue improved significantly with short- and long-term applications of the warm moist air device in both studies. The mean corneal surface and eye lid temperatures showed significant elevation within safe limits 10 minutes after the moist air application. The mean BUT prolonged significantly in the patients receiving warm moist air applications but did not change significantly in those treated with warm compresses. DR-1 tear film lipid layer interference showed evidence of lipid expression in the patients and controls, with thickening of the tear film lipid layer after 10 minutes of warm moist air device use. In the 2-week trial, tear film lipid layer thickness increased in both warm moist air device and warm compress groups, with a greater extent of increase in the warm moist air device group.
Conclusion: Warm moist air device use provided symptomatic relief of ocular fatigue and improvement of tear stability in patients with MGD. The new warm moist air device seems to be a safe and promising alternative in the treatment of MGD.