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RF Treatment for Dry Eyes: What Does It Do?

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A woman undergoing RF treatment to treat eye dryness.

Debilitating dry eyes can feel like an affliction of the modern age, with our screen-centric lives leading to more and more cases of dry eye. While over-the-counter eye drops and lifestyle changes like screen breaks can offer some temporary comfort, a real solution is often necessary for long-term relief from chronic dry eye. 

You may have heard of radiofrequency (RF) as a cosmetic treatment, as it’s also used for skin tightening and wrinkle reduction. However, in recent years, it has emerged as a promising solution for dry eye therapy. 

The controlled heat generated by RF waves can stimulate the meibomian glands, promoting better tear quality, increasing flow, and alleviating dry eye symptoms. Whether or not RF treatment is right for you depends on the cause of your dry eye symptoms, as your meibomian gland function is just one possible factor.

What Causes Dry Eye?

A woman in a grey sweater rubbing her left eye with her left hand.

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when the eyes don’t make enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. 

The tear film, composed of 3 layers (oil, water, and mucus), is essential for clear vision and overall eye health. When the balance of these components is disrupted due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or other factors, it can result in symptoms such as redness, a burning sensation, intermittent blurred vision, and eye fatigue.

Prolonged dry eye can lead to corneal damage, vision changes, and may even affect your quality of life due to discomfort. Anyone can experience dry eye, but it tends to be more common in older adults, contact lens wearers, and those deficient in vitamin A or omega-3.

Understanding RF Treatment

RF treatment is a noninvasive procedure that uses targeted energy to stimulate the meibomian glands responsible for producing the oily layer of the tear film. 

During the treatment, a small, handheld device delivers controlled energy to the eyelids, gently heating and liquefying blockages in the glands, which can obstruct the natural excretion of oils. This allows for easier flow and distribution of these essential oils across the tear film, reducing tear evaporation and enhancing eye lubrication.

RF treatment can be a great option for many, but your suitability for it depends on the root cause of your symptoms. Your eye doctor can help you explore your specific options for dry eye therapy.

What to Expect from RF Treatment

RF treatment for dry eyes usually takes 20 minutes or less per session and is performed in your eye doctor’s clinic. 

Before starting, your eye doctor will apply a small amount of numbing eye drops to make the process more comfortable. The RF device is gently placed around the eye, targeting the meibomian glands. You may feel warmth or light pressure, but discomfort is minimal, and the procedure is generally well-received.

Typically, several sessions are needed to achieve lasting results, but the process is quick, and most people can resume their normal activities immediately after treatment.

RF Aftercare

Post-RF treatment, patients can expect to enter a short recovery period, with some redness and slight swelling being the most common side effects. However, these should subside within a few hours, and for most, recovery pain is reported to be mild to nonexistent. 

Aesthetic Benefits of RF Treatment

RF treatment offers more than just relief for dry eyes. When you opt for RF treatment, you can also give your skin a boost. The controlled heat from the RF waves stimulates collagen production, helping to tighten and rejuvenate the skin around your eyes. So, while you’re finding relief for your dry eyes, you can also be treating yourself to a natural aesthetic enhancement. 

Alternative Treatment Options for Dry Eye

RF treatment is not the only innovative procedure for dry eyes. At Danville Optometric Group, we offer a range of dry eye treatments to target the underlying causes of your symptoms.

  • Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy can relieve dry eye by reducing inflammation and unclogging meibomian glands. At our clinic, we use OptiLight by Lumenis IPL.
  • For dry eyes caused by blepharitis, BlephEx is a mechanical exfoliation technique that can clear away gland blockages. 
  • For day-to-day relief, LACRISERT is a prescription-based method that offers extended-release lubrication throughout the day.

When you visit your optometrist for a consultation, they can help determine which approach is best suited to your unique needs.

Start the Path to Comfortable, Hydrated Eyes

For those who are tired of the interruption that dry eyes can cause, RF treatment can serve as a guiding light toward a horizon full of comfortable, clear days. Relief is within reach; it might just take a little RF spark to get there.If you’re experiencing persistent dry eyes, visit Danville Optometric Group’s dry eye clinic. We can evaluate your symptoms, find the root of the issue, and recommend in-office and at-home treatments to help you find lasting relief. Contact us today to book an appointment.

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Written by Dr. Gregory Tom

Dr. Tom is committed to providing comprehensive eye care to the people of Danville and prides himself on continuing to enhance his medical skills through education and training.

Graduating with honors in 1989, Dr. Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UC Berkeley. He continued his education at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, graduating in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Physiological Optics, and again in 1994 with a Doctorate in Optometry.

More Articles By Dr. Gregory Tom

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