Thursday, June 14, 2012

TearScience Defining New Standard of Care for Evaporative Dry Eye Sufferers

CED Member TearScience®, a privately-held medical device company, today announced that 4,000 treatments of its LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System for evaporative dry eye have been performed to date.  These treatments were performed largely by the first 20 eye care practices to adopt LipiFlow® as of February, 2012.  As of early June, TearScience has more than 40 eye care practices using the LipiFlow® system with multiple, new installations scheduled with a lead time of up to eight weeks.

LipiFlow® uses heat and gentle pressure to unblock obstructed Meibomian glands located in the eyelids during an in-office procedure.  The goal of unblocking the glands is to allow them to resume their natural production of lipids needed for a healthy tear film.

“Given our recent success with this new treatment, we are seeing LipiFlow® emerge as a new standard of care for evaporative dry eye patients,” said John A. Hovanesian, MD, of Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, California.  “How we approach dry eye is evolving because of LipiFlow®.  It has become a very positive advance for both patients and physicians alike.”

“In a randomized, controlled, multi-center clinical study, at four weeks after a single LipiFlow® treatment, 84 percent of patients experienced an improvement in the number of Meibomian glands secreting lipids,” said Stephen Lane, MD, of Associated Eye Care in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Patients Value LipiFlow®

Of the millions of dry eye sufferers in the U.S., approximately 86 percent have evaporative dry eye, which is caused by Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and a lipid deficiency of the eye’s natural tear film.  In the U.S. alone, an estimated $3.8 billion is spent annually in treating dry eye.  At 38 percent of the total patient population, dry eye sufferers represent the largest group of patients visiting ophthalmologists and a market opportunity exceeding $9 billion in the U.S.  Studies show that the average annual spending for moderate dry eye sufferers using wetting drops, prescription medications, and punctal occlusion to manage their dry eye symptoms is $2,959.

TearScience’s 4,000th treatment milestone demonstrates how dry eye sufferers are embracing the value of LipiFlow®.  The treatment is currently a patient-pay procedure and on average, the LipiFlow® treatment ranges from $750-$1,000 per eye in North America.

“My patients have experienced the benefits of LipiFlow®,” said Mujtaba Qazi, MD, director of clinical studies at Pepose Vision Institute in Chesterfield, Missouri.  “It is an effective treatment that addresses the root cause of evaporative dry eye, as chronically blocked tear glands are reopened and gland function is restored.  When patients add up the costs and hassles they incur for managing dry eye and the negative impact that this disease has on their lifestyle, they appreciate the true value of LipiFlow®.”

TearScience is investing millions of dollars in tooling and manufacturing equipment with leading medical device contract manufacturers to ensure the availability of LipiFlow® Activators, the disposable eye piece used during the LipiFlow® treatment.

“We anticipate high demand for the treatment and have made this investment to support our current and future customers who adopt the TearScience® system as the new standard of care for their dry eye patients,” said Tim Willis, CEO and co-founder of TearScience.  

TearScience’s system includes two medical devices, theLipiView® Ocular Surface Interferometer and the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System, and a handheld tool for evaluating Meibomian gland function, called the Korb Meibomian Gland Evaluator.  LipiView® captures, archives, manipulates, and stores detailed digital images of a dry eye patient’s tear film.  Evaporative dry eye occurs when Meibomian glands in the eyelids become obstructed and do not secrete the oily lipids needed to keep the water portion of tears from evaporating too quickly.

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