PURPOSE: Meibomian gland dysfunction is the main cause of dry eye disease (DED) and is traditionally managed using warm compress treatment (WCT). Vectored thermal pulsation treatment (VTPT) is a novel method for treating DED.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared the efficacy of VTPT and WCT in treating DED. The primary outcome was the gland function. The secondary outcomes were the tear breakup time, Schirmer test, tear osmolarity, lipid layer thickness, Standard Patient Evaluation for Eye Dryness, and the improvement of subjective symptoms as assessed by using the Ocular Surface Disease Index. PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, and ClinicalTrials.gov registries were searched for studies published before July 2018.
RESULTS: This study consisted of 4 trials with 385 patients. Significantly greater improvement was observed in meibomian gland function [mean difference (MD): 2.19 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.95, 3.43)], tear breakup time [MD: 1.08 (95% CI, 0.06, 2.10)], and Standard Patient Evaluation for Eye Dryness [MD: -2.76 (95% CI, -4.22, -1.30)] at 2 to 4 weeks in the VTPT group than in the WCT group. A significantly greater decrease in Ocular Surface Disease Index was observed at 2 to 4 weeks [MD: -8.61 (95% CI, -13.62, -3.61)] and 3 months [MD: -6.92 (95% CI, -11.95, -1.89)] in the VTPT group than in the WCT group.
CONCLUSIONS: A single 12-minute VTPT was more efficacious than traditional WCT in treating DED either in objective or subjective measurements. We recommended choosing an appropriate treatment after shared decision-making.