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How Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Can Help With Dry Eye

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If you suffer from temporary or chronic dry eye, you’re probably tired of the irritating and annoying symptoms that come with it. 

If this sounds like you, perhaps you’ve researched treatment options. The good news is, there are many different types of dry eye therapy. You may have even come across intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. But what exactly is IPL therapy, and how does it help treat dry eye?

IPL therapy may be a good option for you if the root cause of your dry eye is due to meibomian gland dysfunction. Not sure what’s causing your dry eye symptoms? Don’t worry. At Family Focus Eyecare, our staff is specially trained to diagnose, treat, and manage all sorts of eye diseases

Get an eye exam today to see if IPL therapy could benefit you and your eye health! 

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction & Dry Eye 

Your meibomian glands are located right on the edge of your eyelids by your eyelashes. These glands are responsible for producing the oily component in your tears, which keeps the surface of your eyes moist.

If your meibomian glands become blocked or stop secreting the proper amount of oils into your tears, it can cause your tears to evaporate too quickly. This can lead to evaporative dry eye, which is the most common form of dry eye. 

Symptoms to Look Out For

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from MGD:

  • Burning, itching or irritation on the edge of your eyelid 
  • Dryness, redness, or tenderness near your eyelashes
  • Abnormally watery eyes that cause blurry vision 

What is IPL Therapy? 

IPL uses pulses of light to release blockages that have clogged your meibomian glands. The gentle warm light delivered by IPL can clear these blockages, returning your meibomian glands to their healthy level of function.

Women undergoing IPL treatment for dry eye

Benefits of IPL

Unlike other dry eye remedies, IPL focuses on treating dry eye disease at the root cause of your symptoms. By combating the issue at the source, you can be left with longer-term relief than treatment options that solely focus on treating symptoms alone. 

Additional benefits of IPL include:

  • It’s a noninvasive procedure
  • Complications are rare
  • Results are long-lasting 

But don’t just take our word for it. Studies have shown that 93% of people who received IPL therapy have noticed a decrease in the severity of their dry eye symptoms. 

The IPL Treatment

The IPL treatment is a relatively quick and easy procedure. 

Preparing for Your Procedure 

To get ready for your IPL treatment, we recommend that you: 

  • Avoid sun exposure, UV light, & chlorinated water 
  • Remove all skincare products & makeup 
  • Avoid using exfoliating or peeling products on your face 

The IPL Process: What to Expect 

A typical IPL treatment takes about 10-15 minutes and consists of the following steps:

  1. Your optometrist will place protective shields over your eyelids and apply a thin layer of cooling gel underneath the eyes.
  2. Then they will use the small IPL device to deliver warm pulses of light to the area around the eyelids, releasing the meibomian glands.
  3. After the IPL light treatment is complete, your optometrist may manually express oil from the glands if it’s required. 

Although you should experience relief directly after your treatment, your optometrist will likely recommend at least 3 additional IPL treatments to release your meibomian glands completely. 

You may also need maintenance treatments throughout your life, depending on the severity of your dry eye disease. 

Post-Treatment Care

To achieve successful results after your IPL treatment, we recommend that you:

  • Apply moisturizer & SPF 30 sunscreen on the treatment area
  • Avoid sun exposure, UV light & humid conditions 
  • Avoid touching the treatment area as much as possible 

In addition to the above recommendations, your optometrist can help identify preventative methods to reduce your risk of developing future MGD. Depending on the severity of your MGD, this could include lifestyle changes, dietary recommendations, or home remedies. 

Side Effects of IPL Treatment

If you experience any side effects of IPL, they will generally be mild and temporary. Some of the side effects associated with IPL include: 

If you have any of the above symptoms for longer than a week, contact your optometrist. 

Book Your IPL Appointment Today  

If you have tried other dry eye treatments but are still experiencing symptoms, IPL may be able to offer you the relief you’ve been looking for. To see what IPL can do for you, book an appointment with us today!

Written by Dr. Joseph Rich

Dr. Joseph D. Rich moved to Columbia shortly after completing his doctorate at Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN. Growing up and completing his undergraduate work in biology, chemistry, and business management at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO, Dr. Rich considers himself a full-fledged Mizzou fan and actively enjoys going to as many games as possible.
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