The eyelid margins are one area of the human body that is rarely if ever cleaned. Over time, the normal bacteria that inhabit the lid margins become over-colonised and form a film that hardens like lacquer all along the edges of the eyelids.

This is called biofilm. It doesn’t go away – it just gets thicker with age. It occurs in contact lens wearers at a much younger age. Biofilm allows bacteria to build up in numbers that can trigger inflammation in the surrounding tissues – which is called blepharitis. This causes symptoms of itching, irritation and ultimately, dry eyes.

Lid scrubs with baby shampoo cannot fully remove biofilm, but a new medical device called BlephEx can.

How does BlephEx work?

BlephEx is a hand-held electro-mechanical device that is precisely applied to the eyelid margins as a professional in-house treatment. A spinning surgical-grade sponge tip (which is soaked with a gentle exfoliating solution) is glided along the eyelids, where it effectively removes biofilm and debris, leaving the eyelid margins clean and comfortable.

Relief can be instant for some patients. BlephEx treatment is performed by optometrists and ophthalmologists, especially those who dedicate their practice to dry eyes. BlephEx was developed by an American Ophthalmologist called James Rynerson in 2013, so it is a relatively new treatment.

Does BlephEx really work?

If you suffer from the eyelid inflammation associated with blepharitis, then BlephEx is an excellent treatment.  Coupled with a meibomian gland debridement procedure, BlephEx really works to remove biofilm and leave the lid margins clean.

But it’s important to understand that it dovetails with what you can do at home to maintain your results. In this way, it is a little like the professional clean you have with the dentists every 6 months.

Your regular brushing and flossing are never as good as a professional clean, but neither can you rely only on the professional treatment.

Who should have BlephEx?

The risk of developing blepharitis increases rapidly with age. While less than 55 of 18-20 year olds are affected, this figure rises to over 70% of people over 65 years of age. Blepharitis contributes significantly to meiboniam gland dysfunction, which is the most common cause of evaporative eye disease. If you have redness or irritation of the eyelids, BlephEx can offer you quick results.

Are the results permanent?

While the results of BlephEx can be almost instantaneous, they are not permanent. Much like the professional removal of plaque and tartar from your teeth, the procedure will need to be repeated annually to maintain results.

Is BlephEx treatment covered by insurance?

While this treatment is not covered by health insurance, it is a very affordable procedure. If you consider what you spend on dry eye treatments, drops and products, BlephEx represents very good value. Not only do you save on artificial tears, medicated eye drops etc, but you will enjoy the benefits of comfortable eyes, perhaps for the first time in years.