In dry eye syndrome (DES), the eyes do not produce enough moisture due to issues with the eye’s tear ducts or oil glands. DES medical devices aim to restore adequate moisture levels in the eyes to alleviate symptoms.

Standard treatments for DES include artificial tears and tiny silicone devices called punctal plugs that sit in the tear ducts and prevent tear drainage from the eyes. Newer treatments for DES are currently undergoing clinical trials.

This article explains the purpose of cleaning devices for DES and some available options. It also outlines some specialty contact lenses that can help treat DES.

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Most cases of evaporative dry eye are due to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The meibomian glands sit inside the eyelids and secrete oils over the top of the tear film to prevent the tears from evaporating.

As a 2022 article explains, in MGD, blockages within the meibomian glands along the eyelid interfere with their ability to secrete oils, causing rapid tear evaporation that can lead to DES.

Several devices are available to unclog the meibomian glands. Most aim to treat MGD, but some target the tear glands themselves. The main aim of these devices is to restore adequate moisture levels in the eyes and alleviate DES symptoms.

The following sections describe some of these devices.


Lipiflow helps treat MGD.

Lipiflow devices are dome-shaped and sit over the eyelids, delivering heat to the meibomian glands. The manufacturers of Lipiflow claim that the combination of heat and pressure massage the meibomian glands to help liquefy and clear any blockages.

The manufacturers add that while most people will notice an immediate change in their symptoms following the treatment, a person can usually expect optimal results over 6 to 8 weeks.

Lipiflow is an in-office procedure that typically takes around 12 minutes.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), the treatment costs around $900 per session.


TearCare devices sit on the upper and lower eyelids and deliver heat to the meibomian glands. The devices consist of a thin, flexible material that allows people to open their eyes and blink during the treatment.

Following the treatment, the technician may massage the eyelids to help clear any blocked oils.

According to the AAO, a person can expect to pay between $600 and $700 per session.


iLux is a handheld device that takes digital images and videos of the meibomian glands to determine the cause of blockages. The device also compresses and gently heats the glands to release blocked oils.

According to the manufacturers of iLux, the noninvasive treatment takes 8 to 12 minutes and relieves symptoms right away. The AAO states the cost for iLux treatment is similar to TearCare, which is $600 to $700 per session.

Mibo Thermoflo

The Mibo Thermoflo has a metallic tip that covers the entire surface of the eye. The device attaches to a heat pump that delivers continuous controlled heat to the skin of the upper and lower eyelids.

Before starting the treatment, the eyecare practitioner will apply a layer of ultrasound gel to the eyelids. The manufacturers of Mibo Thermoflo claim that the combination of gel and heat provides a therapeutic eyelid massage that helps unblock the meibomian glands.

For best results, the manufacturers recommend undergoing three treatments 2 weeks apart and note that some people may require a fourth treatment. The company adds that most people can go 12 months before requiring additional treatment. However, people who experience daily eyestrain may prefer frequent treatments to improve comfort.

According to the AAO, the cost of Mibo Thermoflo treatment ranges from $100 to $400.


NuLids offers a kit that people can use at home to help massage and cleanse their eyelids. The kit contains the following items:

  • a portable, handheld device with charging attachment
  • single-use silicone tips
  • eye gel

To use the device, a person must first attach one of the single-use silicone tips. Magnets inside the handheld device help the silicone tip snap into position.

A person should then apply one pump of the eye gel onto the silicone tip.

To perform the treatment, a person should turn the device on, close their eye, and run the device back and forth along the lash line for 15 seconds. The device produces an oscillating motion to help massage the eyelid. It then pauses, allowing a person to switch to the opposite eyelid.

The manufacturers recommend daily use, treating each eyelid for 15 seconds at a time and repeating the process so that each eyelid receives 30 seconds of treatment in total.

According to the AAO, the NuLids kit costs around $100 and comes with a 30-day supply of tips.


BlephEx cleans the eyelid margins. According to the manufacturers, the device helps remove common causes of insufficient eyelid hygiene, such as:

  • excess bacteria
  • biofilm
  • bacterial toxins

The BlephEx device is handheld and spins a soft, medical-grade micro-sponge along the lash line to clean and exfoliate the eyelids.

According to the manufacturers, the in-office procedure lasts 6 to 8 minutes and may cause a tickling sensation. The eye care professional or trained technician performing the procedure usually places numbing drops in each eye beforehand for comfort.

The manufacturers recommend repeating the treatment every 4 to 6 months.

According to the AAO, BlephEx costs around $150 per treatment.


iTear100 is a prescription neurostimulation device that stimulates the flow of tears. A person holds this portable device on the side of the nose where the nose bone meets the cartilage. The device emits tiny vibrations that stimulate the tear glands to produce tears, thereby helping alleviate DES.

Olympic Ophthalmics, the makers of this device, recommend that users talk with a healthcare professional about a usage schedule suitable for their needs.

The company website lists several precautions for using the iTear100, including that it may not be suitable for people under 22 years or during pregnancy.

To get this device, a doctor will need to approve a 30-day prescription. Once a person has their prescription, they can upload it and arrange delivery.

Intense pulsed light therapy

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy uses high intensity light to help treat certain conditions, including MGD and DES.

To treat MGD, IPL gently heats the meibomian gland secretions to help release blockages. IPL may also have antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties.

People undergoing IPL must wear protective goggles to avoid damaging their internal eye structures. The eye care technician may also apply ultrasound gel to the skin around the eyes to help cool the area and prevent thermal burns.

The technician then calibrates the light pulses according to the person’s skin type and tolerance and directs the pulses at the inner and outer parts of the eyelid. Afterward, the technician may manually express the meibomian glands to remove any blockages. They will then remove the ultrasound gel and clean and wash the skin.

A person must apply sunscreen for several days after the procedure, as their skin will be more sensitive to light.

Each treatment cycle consists of 3 to 4 sessions. People can also require a maintenance session after 4 to 12 months.

The AAO notes that IPL typically costs around $400 per session.

Learn more about IPL treatment.

Specialty contact lenses address damage to the surface of the eye, the cornea, caused by chronic DES. These are called scleral lenses, and options include:


Prokera‘s contact lenses contain the only FDA-approved cryopreserved amniotic membrane (CAM). The amniotic membrane is the innermost layer of the placenta and contains growth factors and other substances that can promote healing.

A 2023 study notes doctors may use CAM to temporarily cover and protect the cornea. Studies suggest the membrane has antimicrobial and anti-scarring properties that help promote corneal healing.

Treatment with Prokera takes between 3 and 5 days. After inserting the lens, a doctor may use tape to close the eyelid while the treatment takes effect.

In the 2023 study, CAM significantly improved DES symptoms regardless of treatment duration — 2 days of CAM treatment resulted in significant improvements lasting up to 3 months.

Learn more about amniotic membranes for DES.


PROSE — prosthetic replacement of the ocular surface ecosystem — uses FDA-approved, custom-designed prosthetic lenses to help restore visual function in those with DES or other ocular surface diseases.

The lenses consist of gas-permeable plastic, which allows oxygen to reach the surface of the eye. Their shape allows them to sit on the white part of the eye, the sclera, while creating a dome over the cornea. Before application, a person fills the dome with preservative-free saline, which acts as a liquid reservoir to keep the cornea moist during wear.

The manufacturers state that the treatment can take between 5 and 10 days and has an 87% success rate in individuals with severe DES.

The AAO states that PROSE is “extremely expensive,” but no specific cost information is available.


The EyePrintPro is a custom-made lens that matches a person’s unique scleral contours. The manufacturers claim that the devices help address the most significant irregularities in the ocular surface and are suitable for individuals with the most severe ocular disease or trauma.

The manufacturers take impressions of the ocular surface using a nontoxic, FDA-approved ocular compound, and the procedure takes a few minutes.

The eye care practitioner then sends the impressions to their prosthetics department, which uses special software to create a 3D model of the eye. Lab technicians then use this information to manufacture the unique lenses.

According to the AAO, EyePrintPro devices cost around $4,000.

Learn more about DES treatment.

Medical devices for dry eye aim to restore moisture levels in the eyes to help relieve DES symptoms. These devices target either inadequate tear production or clogged oil glands, which cause DES.

Specialty contact lenses also treat DES. They work by either creating a fluid reservoir over the cornea, correcting ocular surface irregularities, or promoting corneal healing.

People considering treatments for DES can talk with an ophthalmologist for further information and advice about their options.