What Is Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and How Does It Help Dry Eyes?

Intense pulsed light only treated skin conditions such as acne in the past. Now it works as a treatment for dry eyes. It filters light to use certain light wavelengths that are optimal for healing. The patient's eyes remain closed and protected during treatment. The IPL light flashes like a photo camera on the skin surrounding your eyelids. The light penetrates the meibomian glands that surround your eyes.


How Does IPL Help Dry Eyes?


Dry eyes have many treatments, from artificial tears, eyelid wipes, and hot compresses. Such treatments help relieve the symptoms instead of addressing the root cause. IPL treatment for dry eyes treats meibomian gland dysfunction, the main reason for evaporative dry eye. 


Your upper and lower lids contain the meibomian glands. They help prevent your tears from fast evaporation. Meibomian glands also control bacterial flora because of their antimicrobial properties. You experience a meibomian glands dysfunction (MGD) whenever you have a problem. Dry eyes arise if you have inflammation combined with MGD.


Intense pulsed light works by penetrating the abnormal capillaries. It clears clogging by dissolving excessive oils. The desired result of this treatment is to restore the meibomian glands to proper functioning. In doing so, tear production works and functions as it should.


Additionally, eyelash mites are known to cause dry eyes. They occur on the eyelids and eyelashes in small amounts. If they increase, they can cause inflammation of your eyelids and dry eyes. Intense pulsed therapy resolves chronic dry eyes caused by eyelash mites.


Suitable Candidates for IPL Treatment


IPL works for individuals with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). It is also effective for people with eyelash mites on their eyelids or bacterial infections.




Before scheduling an IPL appointment, you must avoid too much sun exposure. Avoid UV light exposure and the use of artificial tan before your treatment. Do not use any gels, lotions, or sprays that can give you a tan. 


Avoid swimming before your treatment because of the chlorinated water. Inform your doctor if you are on any medication before going for treatment. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin intake before your session.


The IPL Treatment Procedure


During the procedure, your optometrist conducts a comprehensive eye exam on you. Doing so will help assess whether the meibomian gland dysfunction is severe. The examination also determines your skin type.


The comprehensive assessment helps tailor the treatment plan for your dry eyes. Once your optometrist establishes that the IPL suits you, treatment can begin. You will need at least four treatment sessions spread across three months. One top treatment is ideal after every six weeks.


Below is how the IPL treatment procedure works:


  • You remove skin products and makeup from the skin

  • Your doctor will place IPLS pads over your closed eyelids

  • Your doctor covers your eyes with protective goggles

  • Your eye doctor will apply a conductive gel below your eyelid area

  • You receive a pass of the pulsed light across your eyelid

  • Your doctor reapplies the conductive gel before the second pass

  • Your doctor will remove the conductive gel after the IPL treatment flashes


Side Effects


The side effects of intense pulsed light are temporary and minor. They include:


  • Tingling sensation

  • Discomfort

  • Slight mucus discharge

  • Redness on the treated skin site

  • Skin lightening for tanned or light-skinned patients


The side effects are mild and rare. If any of them persists, it is ideal to call your doctor immediately.


For more about intense pulsed light for dry eyes, contact Houston Dry Eye Clinic at our office in Houston, Texas. You can call (713) 664-4760 to book an appointment today.