Intense Pulsed Light: An Innovative Solution for Dry Eyes

July 22, 2020
IPL, or intense pulsed light, has been used by dermatologists in the past decade to treat conditions such as acne and skin lesions. Now it is being used in the treatment of dry eyes as well as other chronic eyelid diseases.

IPL therapy filters light, eliminating unwanted wavelengths and employing the desired light waves (400-1,200 nm). During the procedure, the patient’s eyes remain closed and protected as the IPL is pulsed at the skin surrounding the eyelids, similar to the flash of a photo camera, to penetrate the oil producing meibomian glands surrounding the eyes.

How IPL Treats Dry Eyes

Meibomian glands are located in the upper and lower eyelids. They serve two purposes: preventing tears from evaporating too early and housing the antimicrobial properties that help control flora. When there is a problem with the normal functioning of these glands, it is known as meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD, which, in combination with inflammation, leads to dry eyes.

With IPL, the intense pulsed light penetrates the abnormal capillaries and helps to dissolve the excessive oil and clear the clogging. The desired end result is restoring the normal function of the meibomian glands, allowing for tears to produce normally and function as they should.

Additionally, eyelash mites, known as demodex, are also a common cause of dry eyes. They generally occur in small amounts on the eye lashes and eye lids where they feed off of dead skin. However, if they increase in numbers, it can lead to eyelid inflammation and dry eyes, amongst others complications. IPL therapy can resolve chronic dry eyes from eyelash mites by reducing or temporarily eliminating these mites.  


Suitable Candidates for IPL Therapy

Treatment of chronic dry eyes through IPL therapy has proven successful for people diagnosed with:
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)
  • Bacterial infections or eyelash mites of the eyelids

The IPL Therapy Procedure

IPL light therapy requires continuous treatment. Normally, the recommended number of sessions is between 4-8, depending on the patient’s individual symptoms and severity level. Prior to undergoing the procedure, the patient must undergo an initial consultation with the ophthalmologist. This is to come to an official diagnosis, determine the patient’s severity level, and most importantly, decide on the most suitable treatment plan. If the patient is found to be a suitable candidate for IPL treatment, the patient may begin the procedure right away.
The procedure involves light being pulsed to penetrate the skin around the eyelids to loosen any oils that are clogging the patient’s meibomian glans. The entire procedure should take about 15 minutes in total, followed by a microscopic eyelid cleansing by a specialized nurse.

Patients can go home on the same day as the procedure, although a strict self-care routine is required.


Self-Care after the IPL Therapy Procedure

1. Avoid exposure to sunlight for about 1 week
2. Apply sunscreen, SPF 50 or more, 4 times daily
3.  Take medication strictly as prescribed by the doctor
If you experience any abnormal symptoms such as red eyes, hypersensitivity to sunlight, or abnormally intense eye strain, inform your ophthalmologist immediately.

By the Eye Center, Bumrungrad International Hospital
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