Dry eye disease (DED) has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. A 2017 study published in the National Center of Biotechnology Information shows that approximately 16 million adults have been diagnosed with DED. The condition is notable among those aged between 18 and 34 years old. It increases with age and seems to be more prevalent in women than men.
There’s a wide range of treatments used by eye specialists to treat dry eye. These include artificial tears, eyelid scrubs, and hot compresses. All of this helps relieve the unwanted symptoms associated with DED. But these treatments only provide temporary relief. A new alternative for treating dry eyes can address the root cause of the problem. This is known as intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy.
IPL therapy has been used to treat many common skin conditions for a while. These include enlarged pores, sun-damaged skin, and facial spots, to name a few. But this technology has recently been found to be also effective in treating dry eye.
IPL treatment targets one of the two primary forms of DED: evaporative dry eye. This accounts for about 86 percent of all DED cases. This type of dry eye occurs when blockage of the Meibomian glands develops. When this gland can no longer secrete a sufficient amount of oil, your tears evaporate four to 15 times more quickly than usual. As a result, you experience uncomfortable symptoms, including grittiness, burning sensation, light sensitivity, and blurred vision.
IPL treatment involves using light pulses to liquefy and release the hardened oil that’s clogging the Meibomian glands. It also stimulates proper gland function, allowing a healthy flow of oil to lubricate your eye. This prevents unnecessary evaporation of the tear film’s water layer.
Here’s what happens during IPL therapy:
It starts with your eye doctor placing shields over your eyes. This will protect them from the bursts of light energy.
He or she will then soothe the skin by applying a thin layer of ultrasound gel underneath your eye.
Your doctor will administer the IPL around your eyelids using a small, handheld device. The heat from this light energy with a specific wavelength will loosen any hardened oils that have been clogging your Meibomian glands. This entire procedure can be completed in only about 15 minutes.
After this treatment, your doctor will perform a Meibomian gland expression. It involves gently compressing your lower eyelids using small, paddle-shaped devices. This process will facilitate the glands’ oil flow, restoring proper levels of oil to the tear film’s outer layer.
You might have to undergo IPL therapy once a month for approximately four consecutive months for the best possible results. Your doctor may offer continuous maintenance treatments every six to 12 months. This is to guarantee sufficient, long-term oil flow from your Meibomian glands, preventing dry eye symptoms from returning.
Have you tried all sorts of treatments for your dry eye with little relief? At Seymour Eye Clinic, we can find the best solution for you. Schedule your eye exam today in our clinic in Seymour, Indiana. Call us at (812) 523-6100 to make an appointment.