Effect of thermal pulsation treatment on tear film parameters in dry eye disease patients

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Purpose: The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of thermal pulsation treatment on tear film parameters, specifically osmolarity and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and dry eye disease (DED). Methods: A single-center review of 189 eyes that underwent thermal pulsation treatment was performed. Data were collected on pre and posttreatment osmolarity, MMP-9, tear break-up time (TBUT), and ocular surface disease index (OSDI) score. Statistical analyses were performed to detect any significant differences after treatment. Results: Thermal pulsation treatment led to significant improvements in TBUT (mean increase from 4.5 to 8.5 seconds [P<0.001]), OSDI score (mean decrease from 50.5 to 41.6 [P=0.024]), and MMP-9 (50% positive rate pretreatment compared to 26% positive rate post treatment [P<0.0001]). In the subset of patients who had a baseline osmolarity >307 mOsm/L (ie, diagnostic for DED), there was a significant improvement in the mean tear osmolarity from 317.1 to 306.6 mOsms/L after treatment (P=0.002). Conclusion: Treating MGD is an important component of caring for the DED patient. Thermal pulsation treatment can improve MMP-9 levels on the ocular surface of patients with MGD and DED, as well as improve osmolarity in those with abnormal initial values. The present study suggests that meibomian glands play an important role in tear film dynamics and, as such, effective therapy such as thermal pulsation treatment aimed at improving meibomian gland health, can aid the restoration of normal tear film parameters and decrease patient symptoms of DED and MGD.




Kim, M. J., Stinnett, S. S., & Gupta, P. K. (2017). Effect of thermal pulsation treatment on tear film parameters in dry eye disease patients. Clinical Ophthalmology, 11, 883–886. https://doi.org/10.2147/OPTH.S136203

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