Clinical Trial of Thermal Pulsation (LipiFlow) in Meibomian Gland Dysfunction With Preteatment Meibography

Eye Contact Lens. 2016 Nov;42(6):339-346. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000228.


Objectives: Thermal pulsation (LipiFlow) has been advocated for meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) treatment and was found useful. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of thermal pulsation in Asian patients with different grades of meibomian gland loss.

Methods: A hospital-based interventional study comparing thermal pulsation to warm compresses for MGD treatment. Fifty patients were recruited from the dry eye clinic of a Singapore tertiary eye hospital. The ocular surface and symptom were evaluated before treatment, and one and three months after treatment. Twenty-five patients underwent thermal pulsation (single session), whereas 25 patients underwent warm compresses (twice daily) for 3 months. Meibomian gland loss was graded using infrared meibography, whereas function was graded using the number of glands with liquid secretion.

Results: The mean age (SD) of participants was 56.4 (11.4) years in the warm compress group and 55.6 (12.7) years in the thermal pulsation group. Seventy-six percent of the participants were female. Irritation symptom significantly improved over 3 months in both groups (P<0.01), whereas tear breakup time (TBUT) was modestly improved at 1 month in only the thermal pulsation group (P=0.048), without significant difference between both groups over the 3 months (P=0.88). There was also no significant difference in irritation symptom, TBUT, Schirmer test, and gland secretion variables between patients with different grades of gland loss or function at follow-ups.

Conclusions: A single session of thermal pulsation was similar in its efficacy and safety profile to 3 months of twice daily warm compresses in Asians. Treatment efficacy was not affected by pretreatment gland loss.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / etiology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / pathology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Dry Eye Syndromes / therapy*
  • Eye Pain / etiology
  • Eyelid Diseases / complications
  • Eyelid Diseases / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / methods*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Meibomian Glands* / metabolism
  • Meibomian Glands* / pathology
  • Meibomian Glands* / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Tears / metabolism