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IPL Dry Eye Treatment & Relief

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A woman with dry eyes rubs her eyes as she sits in front of a laptop.

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when your tears are insufficient to provide lubrication, hydration, or nourishment to the eyes. It results in symptoms like stinging, burning, eye redness, and blurry vision

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy effectively treats dry eyes and provides comfort and relief. But what is IPL exactly, and how does it work? What should you expect from this treatment? 

We offer IPL treatments at Central Optometry. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into IPL for dry eyes, how to prepare, and what to expect during a treatment.

What Is IPL?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light. IPL is a non-invasive therapy using high-intensity light to treat various skin conditions for both medical and cosmetic purposes. IPL is a broad-spectrum light that targets the affected areas of your skin, penetrating into the deeper layers. It’s a safe and effective treatment requiring no anesthesia or downtime.

Clinical Studies on Dry Eyes

Numerous studies have reported positive outcomes regarding symptom relief and improved tear film stability, making IPL a promising option for those with dry eyes. Studies show that IPL is effective for ocular rosacea, meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), and evaporative dry eye disease. These studies provide evidence supporting its effectiveness in managing dry eye symptoms using IPL treatments.

IPL has been proven to be extremely helpful for lowering inflammation in individuals with MGD, especially when combined with meibomian gland expression. When these 2 treatments are used together, they effectively reduce the intensity and frequency of dry eye symptoms. 

A 3-year retrospective study also discovered that IPL is useful for symptom reduction and gland function improvement.

What Does IPL Do?

IPL works by stimulating the meibum production, a vital component of the tear film that prevents evaporation. It also helps reduce inflammation and kill bacteria, alleviating other symptoms of dry eyes, such as burning and redness. 

IPL is indicated for treating moderate to severe dry eyes, particularly those associated with ocular rosacea and MGD.

A patient and optometrist shake hands in an optometry clinic.

Preparation for IPL Treatment

Before undergoing an IPL treatment for dry eyes, consult your eye doctor. They will also evaluate your medical history and conduct a routine eye exam to ensure that IPL is the right treatment for you.

You must avoid sun exposure or tanning beds for at least 2 weeks before your treatment to reduce the risk of skin damage. You should also avoid applying any products to your face that can cause photosensitivity, such as alpha-hydroxy acids, retinoids, or benzoyl peroxide. 

During the Treatment

A woman laying down in an optometrist's office with her eyes covered, about to receive IPL Dry Eye treatment.

During the IPL treatment, your provider will place shields over your eyes to protect them from the light. A gel will be applied to the treated area to aid with light penetration. 

Your provider will use a hand-held device to deliver the IPL pulses to the affected areas. You may feel slight warmth, tingling, or pinching, but the treatment isn’t typically painful and doesn’t usually require anesthesia. Watch what happens during the procedure here.

After the Treatment

You may experience some redness and swelling in the treated areas, which should go away after a few hours. You should avoid sun exposure for several days after the procedure and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30. 

Your doctor may recommend eye drops or artificial tears, pharmaceutical grade Omega 3 supplements as well as a warm compress to relieve dryness or discomfort.

Repeat Treatments

In general, patients require 3–4 treatments to achieve optimal results. After that, maintenance sessions may be necessary every 4–12 months, depending on your individual needs. 

Everyone is different, so talk with your eye doctor to better understand what you can expect.

Aesthetic Benefits of IPL

2 images side by side of a woman's face. Showing the before and after comparison of IPL treatment. In the image on the left the skin is red and scarred. While the image on the right shows clear skin.

In addition to treating dry eyes, IPL provides various aesthetic benefits, such as reducing pigmentation, fine lines, and wrinkles. It can also improve skin tone and texture, minimizing the appearance of pores and acne scars. Many patients report healthier-looking skin and a more youthful appearance after IPL therapy.

Clearing the Path to Comfort

IPL is a safe and effective therapy for treating moderate to severe dry eyes, ocular rosacea, and MGD. It stimulates meibum production, reduces inflammation, and kills bacteria, alleviating various symptoms of dry eyes. 

IPL is a non-invasive treatment that requires minimal downtime. It also has various aesthetic benefits, rejuvenating the skin and improving its texture and tone. If you experience dry eyes, contact Central Optometry to see if IPL therapy is right for you. Book an appointment today!

Written by
Dr. Wes McCann

Dr. McCann earned his two Bachelor of Science degrees (both with honours) at Western University in London, Ontario, before going on to earn his Bachelor of Vision Science, accelerated MBA, and Doctor of Optometry degrees at the Nova Southeastern University (NSU) of Optometry in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Dr. Wes McCann
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