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Does IPL Help with Dry Eye? By Jeff Broadhead O.D. on November 03, 2021

What is IPL Therapy?

IPL stands for Intense Pulse Light Therapy.  IPL is used to treat a variety of skin conditions including rosacea, wrinkles, and age spots.  IPL is gaining ground as a novel and highly effective treatment for dry eye disease.

What is Dry Eye Disease? 

When tears function properly, the eyes remain comfortable, protected by a balanced tear film.  The older we get, the more we begin to suffer from dry eyes.  Types of Dry Eye Disease include:

  • Evaporative Dry Eye
  • Tear-Insufficiency Dry Eye
  • Exposure-Related Dry Eye

In English:  Some people have poor tear quality.  Some people don't produce enough tears.  Some people's eyelids don't close or protect properly.

Do Lubricating Drops Really Help?  

In mild cases of dry eye, lubricating "dry eye" drops are often sufficient.  Lubrication drops help protect and soothe the eyes, at least temporarily.  Lubricating drops don't get to the root of the problem, however.  

Sometimes a prescription-strength eye drop is the answer.  Mild steroid drops can provide relief for inflammation associated with dry eye disease.  Restasis is a prescription which stimulates tear production and controls inflammation.  Xiidra is a prescription which improves the signs and symptoms of dry eye.  Punctal plugs can be placed to retain tears on the eyes longer.  Scleral contact lenses can be employed to shield the eyes.

Dry Eye is a Chronic Condition

Treatment of dry eye requires patience and persistence.  Your eye doctor may need to employ multiple approaches to help you achieve maximum relief. Treatment is most successful when we address the root causes of dry eye.

How is IPL Used to Treat Dry Eyes?

IPL energy is calibrated to match your skin type.  The IPL energy is applied to the skin of the face below the eyelids and on the brow.  A few pulses are then applied carefully to the lower eye lids.  Sheilds are employed to protect the eyes.  Immediately after applying the warm energy of the IPL, we numb the eyes and gently express the meibomian glands of the lower eyelids.  

Why is IPL Therapy for Dry Eye Effective?

Many people have really poor quality of the "meibum" or the oil that hould be secreted easily with every blink.  Many people's meibum comes out like toothpaste instead of like oil, meaning it doesn't come out much at all with normal blinking.  When there's not enough oil secreted, tears evaporate too quickly, the eye is not protected, discomfort follows. 

IPL Therapy with meibomian gland expression jumpstarts the glands, reduces inflammation, and helps the oil be secreted more easily.  Better tear quality results in better comfort. 

Dr. Richard Alder, MD stated, "...IPL works for dry eye because it has multiple mechanisms of action, many of which are important regardless of etiology: Light energy from IPL warms the meibomian glands, thereby facilitating expression of meibum. There is evidence that IPL helps restore the function and morphology of the meibomian glands. (see "Understanding the expanding role of IPL in dry eye disease", Ophthalmology Times, September 23, 2019)

So Does IPL Actually Work for Dry Eyes?

Every case is different, but our patients' response has been overwhelming positive!  And they all really like how it helps the skin around their eyes look younger.  (Never a bad side effect!)

How Much Does IPL Dry Eye Therapy Cost?

We get the best results when we do four IPL treatments with meibomian gland expression, once every 3 weeks.  We charge $300 per treatment if paid one at a time, or $1000 for all four treatments if paid up front.  We do not bill Insurance for IPL Therapy.  Maintenance treatments are typically recommended several months later.

Next Step

Your best next step is to schedule a Dry Eye Evaluation at our office in South Jordan.  After a careful evaluation our doctors will advise you as to which combination of dry eye treatments will be most likely to give you the relief you deserve.  

Related to This

Doctor Broadhead checking patient's eyes

Progressive Eye Care

Dr. Jeffrey Broadhead and his team of eye care professionals provide comprehensive treatments to improve the vision of patients from our offices in South Jordan, UT. Our doctors are members of professional associations, including:

  • American Academy of Ophthalmology,
  • American Board of Ophthalmology
  • American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery
  • American Optometric Association
  • Utah Optometric Association
  • Orthokeratology Academy of America

To schedule an appointment at our South Jordan optometry practice, you can contact us online or give us a call at (801) 676-2020.

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South Jordan Office

10654 S River Heights Drive, Suite 110
South Jordan, UT 84095

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