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What Is Radiofrequency (RF) for Dry Eyes?

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A woman sitting in a chair while a nurse applies radiofrequency treatment to her face.

In the landscape of eye care, an empathetic ear and an innovative solution go hand in hand when addressing the discomfort of dry eyes. That’s where radiofrequency (RF) treatments emerge as a beacon of relief in a sea of eye drops and temporary fixes. 

In essence, RF therapy for dry eyes is as modern as it is revolutionary, offering robust results for those who battle dry eyes caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).

This procedure involves the gentle application of RF energy to the eyelids, which helps to open clogged meibomian glands, improve oil flow, and ultimately enhance tear film quality. By using heat-generated RF energy, this treatment offers promising results in alleviating dry eye symptoms and improving overall eye health.

Understanding RF Therapy

The term “radiofrequency” often conjures images of high-tech equipment and frequencies cutting through the airwaves. In medical aesthetics and treatments, RF is a noninvasive procedure that uses energy in the form of radio waves to create heat and induce therapeutic effects. This energy stimulates collagen and elastin production and has been a trusted method in treating skin laxity and wrinkles. Its application in eye care is equally innovative, providing a new horizon for dry eye treatment.

Dry Eyes & Their Symptoms

Dry eye is more than a mere inconvenience. Those affected may experience symptoms that range from a gritty or burning sensation in the eyes to excessive tearing and even blurred vision. It’s caused by an imbalance in the eye’s moisture mechanism, whether it’s through insufficient tears or poor-quality tears that fail to lubricate the eye effectively.

The RF Process for Dry Eyes

What might RF therapy look like for someone with dry eyes? Picture a gentle warmth around your eyelids as a device emits RF energy carefully controlled by your eye care professional. 

This heat can help clear blocked meibomian glands—the tiny structures in your eyelids responsible for secreting oils that stabilize the tear film on your eyes. In many cases, dysfunction of these glands contributes to dry eye. The warming effect of RF treatment helps unclog these glands, promoting a healthier tear film and improving eye comfort.

Benefits of RF Treatments

RF treatments go beyond temporary relief, aiming to restore the normal functioning of meibomian glands. The positive results of RF treatment can include:

  • A significant reduction of dry eye symptoms
  • Longer lasting relief compared to over-the-counter eye drops
  • Improvement in the quality of tears
  • Enhanced comfort in daily activities, whether it’s reading a screen or enjoying the outdoors
  • No downtime after treatment

Duration & Frequency of RF Treatments

Although RF treatments can be effective and long-lasting, they may not appear immediately. Multiple RF sessions may be necessary to achieve optimal results, often spread over several weeks. Each session typically lasts only 20 minutes, which is a mere snippet of your day to reclaim the comfort of your eyes.

The staying power of RF treatments can vary per individual. Patients may revel in symptom improvement that lasts for months, with maintenance treatments suggested every few months to sustain the benefits. Your eye care provider will work closely with you to tailor a treatment plan to your specific needs.

Eligibility for RF Treatments

RF treatments aren’t suitable for everyone. Whether or not RF could work for you depends on the cause of your dry eye symptoms, among other things. Generally, ideal candidates are:

  • Individuals with MGD or chronic dry eye symptoms
  • Patients looking for more sustainable relief options
  • People without contraindications such as pacemakers or metal implants near the treatment area

Your eye doctor may use a combination of clinical evaluations and patient history to determine if RF treatment is the right choice for your eyes. Tests analyzing the quantity and quality of tears, alongside gland inspections, can provide insight into the root cause of your symptoms and guide your doctor’s treatment decisions.

A man in an optometry clinic shaking hands with his female optometrist.

Start Your Journey to Relief

Dry eyes need not be an accepted staple in your story. RF treatments can offer a hopeful remedy for those dealing with the discomfort of chronic dry eyes. At Heartland Eye Consultants, we understand the importance of finding a lasting solution, and we strive to offer treatments that merge innovation with genuine care.

Remember, the journey through eye health is continuous. The team at Heartland Eye Consultants can walk with you, offering clarity and options for your vision and comfort. Together, we can turn the page on dry eye discomfort. Contact us today to get started.

Written by Dr. Holly Ternus

Dr. Holly Ternus is originally from Torrington, Wyoming, and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in biological sciences. She graduated with Honors from The New England College of Optometry and completed internships with Honors at South Boston Community Health Center with an emphasis in glaucoma and narrow-angle glaucoma, Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center with an emphasis in ocular disease, Lifetime Eyecare in Houston fitting specialty contact lenses, and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

Dr. Ternus practiced with ophthalmology in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, specializing in ocular disease, dry eye disease, and emergency care. She then transitioned into primary care, fitting specialty contacts for keratoconus, post-RK, corneal ectasia, and irregular corneas.

Dr. Ternus is an active member of the Nebraska Optometric Association, American Optometry Association, and American Academy of Optometry. She received her fellowship with the American Academy of Optometry in 2018 and is a graduate of the Nebraska Optometric Association’s Leadership Institute. She also received her fellowship in the Scleral Lens Education Society and is the first in Nebraska to have completed this honor.

Outside of work, Dr. Ternus enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 children, snowboarding, skiing, water sports, watching Husker football, and everything that involves being outdoors.

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