FAQ | Treating Dry Eye With RF
RF or Radiofrequency treatment has been used for years in dermatology and cosmetic practices
to tighten the skin around the eyes and other parts of the body, primarily for aesthetics. Its
popularity is growing rapidly because it is safe, effective and non-invasive. It requires no surgery, no
needles and no downtime. Unlike some other procedures, all skin types can be treated all year
round and there are no restrictions to sun exposure. It can be done as a “lunch time” procedure. RF has
been adopted by many leading eye care practices in the past few years as an effective treatment
for symptoms of dry eye. Invision was one of the first practices in Virginia to adopt this new
technology. The most common questions we receive about RF are answered below.
How does RF work?
RF uses the energy of radio waves to gently heat the deep layers of the skin. It is a non-invasive
procedure done in office. A hand-held wand gently heats and massages the treatment area,
stimulating the body’s own natural production of collagen and elastin fibers. The new collagen
fibers are tight, dense and neatly organized. This reduces fine lines and wrinkles, giving you
younger looking skin. It also tightens the skin, so around the eyes this reduces the appearance of
droopy lids. Use of RF around the eyes also helps unblock and restore the function of the
meibomian oil glands in the eyelids, improving the symptoms of dry eye.
What causes dry eye?
Dry eye results when we do not produce enough tears, or more commonly when tears evaporate
too quickly. Rapid tear evaporation is linked to poor function of the meibomian glands. These
glands are found in the upper and lower lids and they secrete a thin layer of oil on the surface of
the tear film. This oily layer prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly. If the glands
become clogged or do not function properly then dry eye symptoms can result.
Common symptoms of dry eye reported by our patients:
Blurriness that comes and goes as you blink
Tired eyes (fatigue)
Dry eye can occur in any age group, but is more common in:
40 years and becomes more common each decade of life
Sjogren syndrome and related auto-immune conditions
Dry climates (or in airplanes with low humidity)
Vitamin A or omega-3 fatty acids deficiency in diet
Prolonged digital use – staring at screens reduces blink rates- so eyes dry more quickly.
How does RF help dry eye?
RF gently heats the skin around the eyes including the eyelids. This helps to unblock clogged
meibomian glands, restoring more normal function. Healthy glands secrete the oil that prevents
tear evaporation and reduces the symptoms of dry eye. RF also tightens the skin on the eyelids
which results in more productive oil secretion as we blink.
How long before I see results?
RF is prescribed as a series of treatments spaced approximately 3 weeks apart. Most patients
report improvement of their symptoms after 2 or 3 treatments. They report continued
improvement with additional treatments.
How long do the positive effects of RF last?
This is one of the most common questions we hear from our patients. Unlike some procedures
that require retreatments every few months, once the initial series of RF treatments is completed
most patients find that single retreatments every 6 to 12 months allows them to remain symptom
free. RF helps “Turn back the clock” on dry eye but the clock does keep ticking!
How long does the RF treatment take?
30 to 45 minutes is needed to complete a dry eye treatment session. If more areas of the face or
neck are being treated for aesthetics, as well, the session will be longer. Most people return to
their normal activities the same day. There are no restrictions or limitations after the treatment.
What do I feel during the treatment?
A warm, soothing gel is placed on the treatment area. A hand-held wand then gently massages
each treatment area for several minutes. Patients tell us they are reminded of a warm stone
massage. Many patients report feeling relaxed, like at a spa and some even doze off!
How safe is RF?
RF is extremely safe and can be used on all skin types. It is a non-surgical and non-invasive
procedure that has been used for the past 20 years. If any discomfort occurs please tell your
technician right away.
What can I expect following the RF treatment?
Most patients see immediate results in the treated area with a skin glow and smoother, tighter
feeling skin. Fine lines and wrinkles will be less noticeable. Slight redness is present -similar to
the redness that occurs after a vigorous gym workout. This returns to normal within several
hours. It is fine to return to work or other normal activities with no restrictions. You may want to
avoid heat exposure for a few hours, and moisturizer can be used if desired.
What is the success rate of using RF to treat dry eye?
Based on early studies, RF was shown to be an effective new treatment for dry eye. A 2018 study
showed that the procedure helped unblock clogged meibomian glands and reduced dry eye
symptoms. We look forward to more research in this area to confirm what we hear from our
patients- RF improves their dry eye symptoms. There is a clinical trial that began in 2019 and
concluded in May 2022 studying the safety and efficacy of RF for dry eye due to meibomian
gland dysfunction. We look forward to the published results.
If you have dry eye and are considering radiofrequency treatment, ask your doctor at Invision
about this new and exciting treatment option. They will examine you and determine whether
this method is the best solution to alleviate your symptoms.