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The Eighties – A Decade of Big Hair and An Oil Revelation

For those of us who remember the eighties, it was a time of big hair bands and power ballads. Little did many know, however, there was another rock star on the rise but he was not exactly making music. Believe it or not, this rock star on the rise was pondering unexplained contact lens discomfort. Why were so many contact lens wearers experiencing issues that seemed to be caused by a known disease, dry eye?

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Who was this now revered rock star in eye care and eye health? It was Dr. Donald Korb, one of the founders of Tear Science, Inc. and today he is thought by as many as the grandfather of a little known disorder, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. This all sounds a bit “dry” to many, but not if you are one of over 30 million Americans suffering from Dry Eye. We do not know if Dr. Korb was rockin’ out to Twisted Sister in the early eighties, but what we do know is that he was on the forefront of writing a new tune for how an entire industry would think of Dry Eye. And to 86% of all those with Dry Eye, we are glad his early work in the studio on contact lens discomfort will forever be enshrined in the scientific circles of eye care.

Dr. Korb along with Dr. Antonio Henriquez, initiated research of how underproduction of oil by glands underneath the lids, known as meibomian glands, may contribute to contact lens intolerance. The research was released in 1980 and this was the first reference to term Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). This was one of the earliest correlations to MGD being a direct cause of dry eye. This was the catalyst for continued research by Dr. Korb and his colleagues that led to a realization that Dry Eye is not simply due to a lack of tear production. Rather, dry eye is primarily caused by the lack of essential oils produced by the meibomian glands thus causing the watery part of the tears in our eyes to evaporate. Dr. Donald Korb reflects, “I am very fortunate to play a role in the discovery of MGD and proud that my research over the years has contributed to a completely new way to diagnosis and treat the most prevalent form of dry eye, Evaporative Dry Eye.”

Today, Eighties hair bands are only a memory and part of rock n’ roll history. Dr. Korb and Tim Willis, both founders of Tear Science, however, continue to make history with the revolutionary LipiFlow thermal pulsation treatment system for Evaporative Dry Eye. Who would have known that there was an eye care rock star waiting in the wings over thirty years ago to show us the way to comfort for the majority of a burning, itching, gritty, irritable dry eye population. It all started with Dr. Korb’s and Dr. Henriquez’s foresight and research along with earlier findings by innovators such as Drs. James McCulley and Gabriel Scialis. Today, their groundbreaking work is music to the ears of thousands of professional eye care practitioners and millions of patients.

For more information on the LipiFlow treatment system, Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) or dry eye, visit dryeyeandmgd.com.