Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy, which has been traditionally used as a cosmetic procedure for treating facial skin conditions, effectively treats chronic dry eye and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). In fact, IPL Therapy is among the more groundbreaking treatments for dry eye.
What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction? (MGD)
Your meibomian glands control the lipids in the eye, called meibum, which combine with other substances in the eye area (oil, mucus, and water) to create a thin film that consistently lubricates your eyes. Meibum is an essential part of your eye’s makeup, as it prevents the evaporation of the eye's tear film.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction occurs when the meibomian glands fail to provide enough meibum. This can be triggered by various factors and causes the tear film to evaporate at a quicker rate, leading the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. In fact, eighty percent of dry eye cases are due to MGD.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction manifests differently and to varying degrees of severity in different people. Some may need mild treatment while others may require more intense care. Dr. Hiten Prajapati will determine the right choice for your condition to get you the best possible results.
How Does IPL Treatment Work?
Intense Pulsed Light Therapy is a painless method that delivers pulses of light to liquify and release oils that have hardened and clogged the meibomian glands in the eyelids. IPL also reduces eyelid redness and stimulates healthy gland function.
Dr. Hiten Prajapati will begin your IPL treatment by placing shields over your eyes to protect them from the light pulses. Following that, a thin layer of cooling gel will be applied to the treatment area and a small device will administer the pulses of light to the region around the eyelids. The pulses of light heat the skin around the eye and dislodge the oil buildup.
After administering IPL, Dr. Hiten Prajapati will express oil from the glands, which will restore normal oil flow in the tear film. Though patients usually notice improvement in dry eye symptoms following their first or second treatment, it is generally recommended they undergo an initial series of four IPL treatments, performed monthly over a period of four months. This ensures long-term success in treating both chronic dry eye syndrome and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction.
Depending on the severity of their dry eye condition, certain patients may require occasional maintenance treatments following the initial series of IPL treatments. It is not unusual to combine IPL treatments with other dry eye therapies in order to optimize effectiveness and promote healing.
How Is IPL Different From Other Dry Eye Treatments?
Many of the treatments for dry eye syndrome, such as eye drops, artificial tears, hot compresses, and eyelid scrubs, are meant to temporarily relieve symptoms instead of treating the root cause of the condition. IPL is unique in that it targets the source – the blood vessels surrounding the glands — enabling them to secrete oils naturally and resume their moisturizing function. This not only relieves symptoms, but also slows the progression of chronic dry eye.
Using IPL in Conjunction with Lipiflow
While IPL is a powerful treatment in its own right, many patients have been receiving both thermal pulsation therapy (Lipiflow) in concert with intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy because the two modalities effectively approach ocular surface disease (OSD) from different angles, providing synergistic, long-term results. Patients with OSD often have meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), characterized by an unstable tear film, thick meibum, clogged glands, and gland dropout. One contributor to both MGD and OSD is inflammation, particularly in patients with rosacea. Thermal pulsation therapy is designed to address the first problem by thinning and removing impacted old meibum so the meibomian glands can work better, which, in turn, results in a healthier lipid layer and less evaporation of tears. Evacuating the meibomian glands also decreases a patient’s risk for atrophy and dropout. IPL therapy takes on the second problem by treating the root cause of MGD: inflammation. It closes off abnormal telangiectatic vessels along the lid margins, which leak proinflammatory mediators and potentiate inflammation.
Increasing numbers of dry eye experts recommend a varied approach for patients with both problems based on the dominance of either MGD or telangiectasia. For example, If MGD and telangiectasia are diagnosed, then patients will likely receive these complementary treatments; those with only one of those problems have only the corresponding procedure. If MGD is the primary issue, we generally treat it with thermal pulsation first and continue treatment once per year.
If you have tried various treatments for your dry eye, and still struggle with dry eye, we can help. Contact Triangle Family Eye Care to schedule your dry eye evaluation today!
The Triangle Family Eye Care serves patients from in and around Morrisville, Cary, Apex, and Raleigh and throughout North Carolina.