MGDRx EyeBag effective for dry eye
The MGDRx EyeBag, a device designed to treat meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), effectively relieves dry eye symptoms, according to a recent study. However, there seems to be little effect on MG function and tear stability.
EyeBag is a cotton or silk pouch filled with flax and linseed, which, after heating for 30 seconds in a 900-W microwave, is to be placed over the closed eyes for 10 seconds. It is applied twice daily for 4 weeks.
Researchers randomly assigned 25 participants to receive the EyeBag intervention (n=12; mean age 38±15 years; 3 males) or no intervention (control; n=13; mean age 37±15; four males). Adherence to the EyeBag was good overall: mean use was 1.8 times per day for approximately 9.6 minutes per session. [J Optom 2018;doi:10.1016/j.optom.2018.07.002]
Mean Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores for those who received the EyeBag intervention dropped from 39.1 points at baseline to 26.8 points at week 2 (change, –12.3 points; p=0.02). Scores remained low throughout the remainder of the study (week 4: 26.6 points; p=0.01; week 8: 27.7 points; p=0.03).
In contrast, no such changes were observed in the control participants, whose OSDI scores remained statistically consistent over the 8-week study period (p=0.22).
In terms of MG function, no significant changes over time were reported in either group. However, those who received the EyeBag intervention showed a nonsignificant increase in the median MG score from baseline to week 2 (4.0 to 6.0 points). This dropped slightly to 5.0 points by week 4 and returned to 4.0 points by week 8.
In comparison, those in the control group showed a median MG score of 3.0 points at baseline and at week 2, which then dropped to 1.0 for weeks 4 and 8, respectively.
A similar temporal trend was observed for tear stability. Noninvasive tear breakup time (NIBUT) in the EyeBag group gradually increased from 2.9 seconds at baseline to 3.1 seconds at 2 weeks and 3.4 seconds at 4 weeks before dropping back down to 3.0 seconds at 8 weeks.
On the other hand, NIBUT in controls dropped from 3.1 seconds at baseline to 2.7 and 2.3 seconds at weeks 2 and 4; values returned to 3.1 seconds by week 8.
Improvements in NIBUT and MG scores were short-lived, returning to baseline values after the EyeBag treatment was terminated by week 4, said researchers. “This suggests that the EyeBag needs to be used continuously to maintain the improvement in MG function and NIBUT. The potential changes in these clinical measures after extended use remains unknown.”
Regardless of the failure to reach statistical significance, “almost all the variables in the EyeBag group changed in the direction that favoured treatment. In contrast, the numbers in the control group stayed the same or moved in the opposite direction,” researchers added.
Moreover, improvements in dry eye symptoms were significant, manifesting early in the study and persisting all throughout, even after EyeBag discontinuation. However, this may hint at a potential placebo effect, where participants still feel symptom relief despite there being no actual impact anymore, according to researchers.
This may work in favour of the intervention. “The continued use of the EyeBag is required to sustain improvement, but given that symptoms did improve, then compliance may be helped by the fact that participants do seem to appreciate a reduction in symptoms,” they added.