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IPL for Dry Eyes: Treatment & Benefits

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A teenager sitting at a desk in front of a laptop and rubbing his eyes as he holds his glasses in his right hand. There is a glass of orange juice, a green apple, school books, and a container of writing utensils on the desk.

People living with dry eyes know dry eye can be more than just uncomfortable—it can throw your entire day off track and make it difficult to approach common tasks. But it doesn’t have to take over your life. Your optometrist can offer modern dry eye treatments that may bring hydration back to your vision.

Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment can provide dry eye relief by reducing inflammation of the eyelids that can contribute to dry eyes.

What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye is a common eye condition that affects about 30% of Canadians. It occurs when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears or produce tears of poor quality, causing discomfort, irritation, and sometimes even vision problems. This happens in 1 of 2 ways:

  • Aqueous deficiency dry eye is when you don’t produce enough tears.
  • Evaporative dry eye is when your tears are low-quality and evaporate too quickly.

While dry eyes can affect anyone, some factors can increase your risk of developing this frustrating condition:

  • Age: As we age, the glands that produce tears may shrink, reducing tear production.
  • Sex: Women are more likely to develop dry eyes than men due to hormonal changes that occur during menopause or pregnancy.
  • Environmental conditions: Prolonged exposure to wind, smoke, and dry air can dry out your eyes.
  • Medications: Certain medications like antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants can reduce tear production.
  • Medical conditions: Conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can affect your tear glands.
  • Lifestyle habits: Poor diet, lack of sleep, and excessive screen time can also contribute to dry eyes.

InMode IPL & RF for Dry Eye

More often than not, the main cause of dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands are tiny glands in your eyelids that produce an oil called meibum. This oil is an important part of your tear film, which is the protective layer of tears that keeps your eyes nourished and safe. Meibum’s job is to keep your tears from evaporating too quickly.

If the meibomian glands get blocked or become inflamed, your eyes could start feeling dry. That’s not a comfortable feeling, we know, but here’s where the good news comes in.

InMode IPL (intense pulsed light) and RF (radiofrequency) are relatively new treatments that use special medical devices to shower the area with light energy or electrical currents to melt away blockages. IPL was originally designed for dermatology, but it turns out it can also be effective when it comes to treating dry eye caused by MGD.

What to Expect During IPL Treatment

A cheerful woman removing her makeup using a cotton pad in front of a mirror.

Before an IPL appointment, your optometrist will provide instructions to help you prep for treatment. This may include:

  • Avoiding UV exposure for a few days before treatment
  • Keep your face clean and free of makeup for the day
  • Not using peeling masks or any exfoliants before treatment
  • Not using aspirin or ibuprofen for the week leading up to your appointment

IPL treatments don’t generally take that long. They’re done right in the office and only last about 10–15 minutes. The number of treatments you’ll need depends on your symptoms, but you could notice relief after only a few sessions.

So, what happens during a typical IPL session? Your optometrist cleans the area and may apply some cooling gel to the skin. You’ll wear a protective shield over your eyes as your optometrist uses a handheld device to deliver light pulses. This helps thin the blockages in your oil glands.

Depending on your situation, your optometrist might manually express the oil still lingering in your glands, helping stimulate the eye’s natural oil production.

Benefits of IPL Treatment

IPL is a gentle and noninvasive therapy that can be beneficial for many people experiencing dry eyes. If you have tried over-the-counter eye drops or ointments and prescription medications without satisfactory results, IPL may be a good solution for you. Additionally, those with meibomian gland dysfunction or blepharitis may be good candidates for this treatment.

IPL therapy is well-tolerated by most individuals, and the treatment is generally quick and comfortable. Most patients can even resume their regular activities immediately afterward, though there could be some temporary redness post-treatment. This usually subsides within a few days.

The number of treatments required can differ from person to person, depending on the severity of your condition. Most people require around 4 treatments, but the results of IPL therapy can last around 9 months before requiring maintenance treatments.

One of the biggest benefits of IPL is the feeling of satisfaction patients feel after their treatment. A 3-year retrospective study showed that 93% of patients were satisfied with the relief IPL brought for their dry eye symptoms.

Discover InMode for Dry Eye Relief

Treating dry eye symptoms is all about using the right tools for your unique situation. At Southwood Eyecare, we’re proud to offer our patients InMode IPL & RF, as well as a range of other dry eye treatments to help put dry eyes in the past.The path to relief begins with a comprehensive eye exam, where our team can evaluate the health of your tear film and offer solutions to irritating symptoms. Let’s get started today. Book an appointment or take our dry eye quiz.

Written by Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery

Dr. Shmyla Chaudhery was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Manitoba and later completed the Doctor of Optometry program at Illinois College of Optometry graduating with Magna Cum Laude honours. Dr. Chaudhery is also a member of the Beta Sigma Kappa International Optometric Honor Society and the Tomb and Key Honor Fraternity. She has experience with pediatric eye exams, ocular disease, specialty contact lenses, and vision therapy. During her spare time, she enjoys playing badminton and spending time with her husband and kids.
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