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Clin Ophthalmol. 2018 Jan 17;12:161-168. doi: 10.2147/OPTH.S150433. eCollection 2018.

Comparison of a single-dose vectored thermal pulsation procedure with a 3-month course of daily oral doxycycline for moderate-to-severe meibomian gland dysfunction.

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EyeHealth Northwest, Portland, OR, USA.
Iris Advanced Eye Centre, Chandigarh, India.
TearScience, Inc., Morrisville, NC, USA.



The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy of a single bilateral 12-minute vectored thermal pulsation (VTP) procedure versus daily oral doxycycline for 3 months for moderate-to-severe meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).


This prospective, randomized, parallel-group, single-masked study included 28 subjects who received either a single-dose VTP or 3 months of doxycycline treatment. At baseline and 3 months post treatment, all subjects were evaluated for the following: dry eye symptoms with a standard dry eye questionnaire (the Standard Patient Evaluation for Eye Dryness [SPEED]), meibomian gland (MG) function by counting the number of glands yielding liquid secretion with the MG evaluator (MGE), tear breakup time (TBUT) and corneal and conjunctival staining.


In the VTP group, at 3 months, there was a significant improvement in MG function (4.00±1.47 to 7.73±5.53), SPEED score (11.00±3.30 to 5.42±2.15), TBUT (6.26±2.01 to 8.44±1.81), corneal staining (0.38±0.50 to 0.12±0.33) and conjunctival staining (1.69±1.93 to 0.62±0.85). In the doxycycline group, there was a significant improvement in MG function (4.63±1.41 to 10.63±5.91), SPEED score (13.42±4.17 to 9.42±5.47) and conjunctival staining (2.38±1.88 to 1.13±1.51), but the improvement in TBUT (6.90±2.56 to 7.59±2.03) and corneal staining (0.21±0.41 to 0.13±0.34) was not statistically significant (p=0.262 and p=0.414, respectively). At 3 months, SPEED score was significantly better in the VTP group (p<0.05); other parameters were comparable between the two groups.


A single 12-minute bilateral VTP procedure was significantly more effective than the 3-month daily course of oral doxycycline at improving the dry eye symptoms secondary to MGD. A single 12-minute VTP treatment was at least as effective as a dose of doxycycline for 3 months, in improving MG function and all measured signs of MGD. Given the minimal risk profile of the single VTP procedure over long-term doxycycline use, a single VTP presents a favorable alternative to long-term antibiotic use.


LipiFlow; dry eye; meibomian gland dysfunction; vectored thermal pulsation

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure RB is a consultant for TearScience, Inc. CAB is an employee of TearScience, Inc. The other authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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