Intense Pulsed Light IPL
The most common cause of dry eye is rapid evaporation from lack of sufficient lipid / oil production from Meibomian glands located within the eyelids.
A number of treatments are available and each has its own merit.
What is IPL?
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment involves delivery of a series of light pulses in a very specific manner and works by stimulating the Meibomian glands to produce lipids/oils. Although 3 treatments are recommended over a period of 6 weeks, many patients notice a difference in their eye comfort within a few hours to days following the first treatment.
What does the treatment involve?
The skin around the eye is cleaned and all make up is removed, Goggles are then placed over the eyes to protect them from the intense light from the device.
A clear gel is placed on the skin and then the device is applied to the lower eyelid delivering a series of flashes. These are applied to both lower lids.
Following the procedure, the technician may depending on the case, express the Meibomian glands to mobilise secretions.
How quickly does the procedure work?
For most patients stimulation of the glands occurs within hours and after the first treatment lasts about a week to 10 days. After the second treatment the effect lasts for 2 to 3 weeks and after the third a few months or more. The effect of the treatment is cumulative which means it is effective for longer after multiple treatments.
Is the treatment painful?
No there is no pain whatsoever.
Can the treatment cause cancer?
No the treatment does not cause cancer. The wavelength of the light delivered (580-1200nm) does not cause cancer.
Harmful light including Ultraviolet light is very effectively filtered out and not delivered to the eyelid.
Can the treatment be performed in pregnancy?
The company advises against use of the device in patients who are pregnant.
Can the treatment be performed in those who are breast-feeding?
Yes the treatment can be used in this situation.
What long does the procedure take?
The procedure is performed to the lids of both eyes and is very quick taking only 3 to 5 minutes per session.
How many treatments do I need?
The vast majority of patients will benefit from 3 treatments over 6 weeks.
Some patients with advanced problems may require further treatments.
What type of light is involved?
The light is polychromatic which means it uses a variety of wavelengths ranging from 580 to 1200 nm and delivered as a train of pulses in a specific manner.
This not only results in stimulation of the glands to work normally but also warms the lids and allows the stagnant oils to be removed by compression following the procedure.
Authored by Sheraz Daya MD FACP FACS FRCS(Ed) FRCOphth, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon & Medical Director, June 2019.
Next review due June 2020.