How does Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Treat Dry Eyes?

The eyes are made up of many important elements. One that is often overlooked in favor of more obvious structures is the ocular surface. The ocular surface is comprised of the cornea, which is the clear dome covering the front of the eye, the conjunctiva, which is the soft, pink tissue lining the eyes, and things like the drainage system, which helps to reduce an overflow of tear film. 


Tear film is an essential component of the ocular surface. Made of a combination of water, proteins, and oil, it’s what keeps the surface of the eyes moist, lubricated, and comfortable so that we can move our eyes around, blink comfortably and see clearly. Unfortunately, sometimes problems can occur with our natural tear film production. One of the most common is known as dry eyes. 



Causes of dry eyes



There can be a number of contributing factors to dry eyes. One of the most common is meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD for short. The meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oil element of tear film, but they can easily become blocked by hardened oil deposits. This prevents enough oil from being able to get through to the tear film mixture, negatively affecting its ability to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes.



Some of the things that can cause MGD include:



  • Taking certain medications, including some blood pressure drugs and antidepressants
  • Suffering from autoimmune disorders
  • Suffering from diabetes
  • Having previously had a trauma to the eye, including eye surgery
  • Prolonged use of contact lenses
  • Digital eye strain
  • Spending lots of time in dry, dusty, sandy, or smoky environments  


Nevertheless, in some cases, the underlying cause of dry eyes is never discovered. 



Signs of dry eyes



Although dry eye isn’t a serious or sight-threatening condition, it can have implications for your day-to-day life. This is because it causes symptoms such as red eyes, irritation, feeling as though you’ve got something stuck in your eyes, and general soreness. Some patients also report an increased sensitivity to light, blurred vision, and more difficulty with tasks like driving, especially at night. 


A quick evaluation with your eye doctor should reveal if you are experiencing dry eyes. Fortunately, there are treatments that can relieve your symptoms. One popular treatment for dry eyes is Intense Pulsed Light treatment or IPL for short. 



IPL treatment and dry eyes



Intense Pulsed Light treatment is a very safe, painless, non-invasive, and effective treatment technique that is designed to address dry eyes that are caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. MGD is the primary cause of evaporative dry eye. 


IPL treatment causes several different therapeutic effects. For patients with dry eyes, it works by opening up the meibomian glands. In doing so, the light can reach the oil within the glands, liquefying any hardened oil deposits so that they can pass out, eliminating any blockages. This enables oils to pass freely into the tear film mixture, providing the lubrication needed to keep the eyes comfortable and reducing the symptoms of dry eyes. 


Following IPL treatment, your eye doctor will usually then massage the area containing the meibomian glands. This helps to express any old oil that may have been backed up in the glands and gets the production of fresh new tear film oil going. 


Exactly how many sessions of IPL you’ll need will depend on your individual circumstances, but most patients see a marked improvement in their symptoms after the very first treatment. 


For more information about dry eyes and how IPL treatment can help, please don’t hesitate to make an appointment with our friendly and knowledgeable team at Eastern Virginia Eye Associates in Chesapeake, Virginia by calling (757) 607-4800 today.

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