IPL – Intense Pulsed Light for Dry Eye
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) is a relatively new treatment option for dry eyes. IPL works by improving the function of the meibomian glands (oil glands), which are responsible for producing the oily layer of the tear film that prevents the evaporation of tears.
During an IPL treatment for dry eye, a device is used to emit pulses of light onto the skin of the lower eyelids, nose and above the brow. The light energy is absorbed by the blood vessels and meibomian glands in the area, causing them to heat up and stimulate the production of better quality & quantity of oil.
This, in turn, can help to improve the stability of the tear film, reduce tear evaporation, and improve symptoms of dry eye, such as dryness, burning, itching and redness. IPL also has anti-inflammatory effects, which can further improve dry eye symptoms. To experience an improvement in dry eye signs and symptoms, most patients need a minimum of four treatments, followed by ‘top-up’ treatments a few times per year.
Optometrist Abby Ussher regularly performs IPL treatments using the Lumenis M22 machine.
Does IPL Hurt?
IPL treatment for dry eye is generally well-tolerated and is not considered painful. Most patients describe the sensation as a mild warmth, flicking or tingling sensation in the treated area (not unlike laser hair removal). However, some individuals may be more sensitive to the treatment and may experience some discomfort, the energy of each light pulse is individualised and lasts less than a second. To minimize any discomfort during the treatment, the tip of the handpiece is water cooled and the optometrist applies cool ultrasound gel to the treatment area. After the procedure, patients may experience some mild redness or swelling in the treated area, but this usually resolves within a few hours to a few days. Some skin types and medical conditions cannot have IPL, but these conditions are all discussed with your Optometrist during a dry eye consultation before the commencement of IPL treatments. IPL is a very safe treatment, as long as the pre and post treatment regime is followed, the optometrist will use eye shields to protect your eyes during the treatment. Make up, moisturiser and sunscreen in the treatment area should be removed prior to your appointment and hair should be tired back. Please note, individual results may vary.