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IPL Dry Eye Treatment: What to Expect?

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A woman with eyes closed rubbing her left eye with her left hand.

Dry eyes are not merely an occasional inconvenience; they can significantly impact the quality of your daily life. They’re a challenge that requires specialized care and attention. So, if you’ve been searching for relief, intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy could be your answer.

IPL dry eye treatment uses precise pulses of light to melt blockages in your tear glands to help restore moisture and reduce inflammation. Originally developed to treat spider veins, IPL is an effective dry eye treatment, and our team can use this fascinating technology to help you see comfortably again.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a complex condition that affects the quantity or quality of the tears your eyes produce. Every time you blink, you spread a tear film across your eyes, which nourishes, moisturizes, and helps prevent dust and debris from damaging your cornea, the eye’s clear front dome. The tear film has 3 layers, each with its own job to do:

  • The inner mucus layer helps the tear stick to the eye
  • The middle watery layer nourishes the eye and keeps it hydrated
  • The outer oily layer keeps the tear’s surface smooth and prevents it from evaporating

One of the leading causes of dry eye is meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), where the glands responsible for producing the tear film’s oily layer become blocked or inflamed. Without this outer layer, tears evaporate too quickly, leading to dry and irritated eyes.

Another common cause of dry eye is rosacea. This chronic skin condition is characterized by redness, pimples, and spots on the face. When it affects the eyes, it’s called ocular rosacea. Not only can ocular rosacea share symptoms with dry eyes, but the inflammation it causes can lead to chronic dryness.

This means treating dry eye can sometimes start with treating the skin, and this is one of the many reasons optometrists and medical aestheticians go hand in hand.

Common Dry Eye Symptoms

Everyone experiences dry eyes differently. Some people may experience momentary irritations, while others experience chronic discomfort. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • A stinging or burning sensation
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Blurry vision
  • Periods of excessive tearing

If left untreated, dry eyes can increase your risk of infection and corneal scarring. The varied nature of these symptoms makes it difficult to diagnose and find a treatment that offers lasting relief.

Your Dry Eye Evaluation

The first step in treating dry eye is a dry eye evaluation. We can assess the extent of your dry eye and discuss your symptoms in detail. We will take into account any medical conditions, medications, diet, supplements, sleep habits, and digital device use that may affect your tears. We also evaluate your tear film quality, quantity, and stability and examine your overall eye health.

Once we have a clear picture of your dry eye’s underlying cause, we can craft a personalized treatment plan. Some optometrists may perform the procedure themselves, but at Vision Care Centre, we then connect you to the medical aesthetician at our sister clinic, Rejuvenate by Peak Human, for treatment.

Your treatment is still done under the care of an optometrist. We’ll check in with you 2 months down the road to inspect your progress and, if need be, make any adjustments to your treatment.

If your dry eyes are due to a medical condition, we also have access to a family doctor who can help answer your questions and put you on the track to recovery.

Exploring IPL Treatment for Dry Eye

Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is a small device that delivers high-intensity, gentle pulses of broadband light to the skin. IPL addresses the cause of MGD by reducing inflammation and melting blockages in the glands, promoting natural tear production.

We can also use IPL to address rosacea, an inflammation that, when it occurs around the eyes, leads to ocular rosacea that causes dryness.

IPL is non-invasive and can target specific problem areas around the eyes, making it an attractive option for people with chronic dry eye who want to rely less on eye drops.

The IPL Treatment Process

We begin an IPL session by placing protective eyewear over your eyes to shield them from the intense light. We then apply a cooling gel to the treatment area, typically around the eyes, to enhance the pulses’s effectiveness. We use a handheld device to administer a series of pulses to several target areas on the eyelids, melting away blockages.

The therapy itself is relatively quick. 

IPL is often part of a comprehensive treatment plan, and you may need to undergo multiple sessions to see results. Each session is personalized to your needs and may target different areas as the condition improves.

The frequency of IPL sessions can vary depending on your condition’s severity and your response to treatment. 

Every eye is different. In the beginning, you may need several sessions over a few weeks. Once your condition stabilizes, you may only need occasional maintenance sessions.

It’s important to be patient after an IPL session, as results may take some time to be fully realized. Improving meibomian gland function is a gradual process, and your symptoms can continue to improve in the weeks and months following your treatment. You may still need to use eye drops during this time, but eventually, you could find yourself reaching for your dropper less and less.

What Are the Benefits of IPL?

IPL reduces inflammation, improves meibomian gland function, reduces dry eye symptoms, and improves your eyes’s overall health and comfort.

One of the key benefits of IPL is its long-term effectiveness, with patients often experiencing relief that lasts well beyond the completion of their treatment plan—up to 9 months in some cases.

Close-up of a man undergoing a slit-lamp exam.

Find Long-Term Dry Eye Relief 

The journey to managing dry eye can be complex, but it doesn’t have to be without hope. Eye drops can temporarily relieve symptoms, but IPL offers a longer-term approach to treating the root causes of dry eye.

At Vision Care Centre, we’re dedicated to providing eye care that’s all about you. Our team is experienced in administering IPL therapy for dry eye and is committed to working with you to create a treatment plan that’s both effective and manageable. If you’re ready to take the next step towards managing your dry eye, book an appointment with us today! Don’t let dry eye keep you from living life to the fullest.

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Written by Vision Care Centre

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