ExpressTears Pilot Study: New Meibomian Gland Expression Tool Significantly Improves MGD
Pilot Study Overview
In 2019, a pilot study was performed by Miles Ashley, O.D., of Mississippi, to find out if a new at-home meibomian gland expression device, ExpressTears, could safely and effectively treat dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The study used both clinical measurements and subjective indicators (in this case, patient’s assessment of their own symptoms) to determine the results.
Participants with a history of evaporative dry eye and significant MGD were chosen and provided with the ExpressTears device, 30 disposable applicator pads, and instructions to use the device once daily before bedtime for 30 days.
The participants underwent an initial office visit, a midpoint visit at the two-week mark, and a final visit after all 30 pads had been used. During these visits, their symptoms were recorded using the following objective measurements:
- Tear Breakup Time (TBUT)
- Sodium Fluorescein (NaFl) Corneal Staining
- Meibomian Gland Expression
Backed by Clinical Research
ExpressTears was designed to help “express” meibomian glands in the eyelids, evacuating the oil (meibum) from the blocked glands onto the surface of the tear film. This improves tear function by preventing tears from evaporating too quickly.
Before ExpressTears, one of the only options patients had to ease this process was with the use of a warm compress on the eyes for a few minutes. This has been shown to be effective in warming the oils, but not getting them moving through the areas where blockage has occurred.
The hypothesis was that ExpressTears would be able to achieve near-total meibomian gland expression in less time than a typical warm compress treatment takes.
Results of Pilot Study
As the study moved forward, ExpressTears showed positive results at each checkpoint:
After Two Weeks:
- The average TBUT of each eye improved by nearly 40%
- The average corneal staining improved by nearly 50%
- The average MGD score in each eyelid improved by over 25%
After Four Weeks:
- The average TBUT improved by over 50%
- The average corneal staining improved by nearly 60%
- The average MGD score in each eyelid improved by nearly 50%
In addition, patients’ own estimation of their symptoms was shown to improve by nearly 20% after two weeks, and again by 33% after two more. So not only did ExpressTears improve every objective measure, but participants also expressed how well it was working throughout the 30-day trial period.
Findings and Conclusion
ExpressTears provides a much-needed alternative for a problem that many doctors (and their patients) struggle with. LipiFlow and similar in-office treatments can effectively treat the symptoms of MGD — but now there is a device that can extend that standard of care between office visits.
When used as directed, ExpressTears can dramatically improve both clinical signs and the symptoms of dry eye and MGD, with results starting to show almost immediately. ExpressTears is an upgrade over a warm compress, giving patients an effective, easy-to-use, and affordable way to carry out meibomian gland expression from home.