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What is IPL Treatment for Dry Eyes?

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A woman receiving IPL treatment

Millions of people in the United States suffer from dry eye syndrome—commonly known as dry eye. It’s an uncomfortable condition that causes mild to severe irritation in the eyes. Left untreated, it can cause a lot of disruption to your daily life.

An over-the-counter (OTC) lubricating eye drop is often enough to relieve you of the symptoms in minor cases. But in more extreme cases, your optometrist can find the root cause of your dry eyes through an eye examination and recommend an effective treatment for your situation.  

What is Dry Eye?

Essentially, dry eye is when the eye does not produce enough tears or the tears it makes evaporate too quickly. You’re probably familiar with the typical symptoms like itchy or scratchy eyes.

Other telltale signs of dry eyes include sensitivity to light and trouble seeing at night. And although it seems odd, excessively watering eyes is also a common symptom of dry eye syndrome. This is your body’s overcompensation for the dryness.

Risk of Dry Eye

Older adults are typically at a higher risk for dry eye, but they aren’t alone. In addition to age, several other factors contribute to a higher risk of dealing with the condition:

  • Women are at a higher risk of dry eye due to hormonal changes in their bodies
  • Various medications and medical conditions
  • Environmental factors like wind or smoke
  • Allergies
  • Forgetting to blink like when spending a lot of time looking at screens
A woman receiving IPL treatment for her face and eyes

IPL Treatment for Dry Eyes

A common cause of dry eye syndrome is a buildup and blockage of oil in the meibomian glands. Once these glands become blocked, they will not release enough oil to keep your eyes lubricated.

Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is a typical result once the glands are blocked, and dry eye syndrome is a frequent result.

Intense pulsed light treatment—known as IPL treatment—is a safe and effective therapy for blocked meibomian glands that your optometrist can perform. One study showed that 93% of people who received IPL treatment were happy with the results.

Unlike many other therapies for dry eyes that focus on helping the symptoms, IPL treatment focuses on a potential root cause of dry eye. This offers the potential for long-term relief from symptoms.

What to Expect from IPL Treatment

There are a few different types of IPL treatment, but the general process remains mostly the same. Your optometrist will provide you with specific pre-procedure instructions, but these are the typical steps you can expect:

  • Protection is placed over your eyes.
  • Cooling gel is spread in a thin layer over the area being treated.
  • Light pulses are directed at your eyelids and surrounding area to stimulate your meibomian glands. This helps dislodge and get rid of any debris clogging them up.
  • Depending on the severity of gland dysfunction, the optometrist may manually express the glands to finish the procedure.

This process only takes 10 to 15 minutes, but you’ll usually need at least 3 separate treatments. Your optometrist will recommend a number of treatments based on your particular situation.

While this is usually a long-term solution that can last several years, your optometrist may recommend follow-up treatments to maintain the results.

Other Treatment Options for Dry Eyes

Natural Treatments

Using the various OTC eye drops or ointments available is one way that you can treat minor dry eye symptoms by yourself. Or using a warm cloth and scrubbing your eyelids with gentle soap is another possible natural solution.

If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to have your optometrist look at your eyes to ensure that there isn’t a severe underlying problem causing the dryness.

Medical Treatments

At Higgins Brothers Vision Care, we know how common dry eye syndrome is, and we understand that no two cases are exactly the same. That’s why we offer several different treatments to ensure you’re solving the problem at the root—not just slapping a “bandage” on the symptoms of your itchy and sore eyes.

In addition to these treatments, we also offer counseling to help treat and prevent dry eye syndrome by focusing on diet and lifestyle. Sometimes, using several treatments in conjunction may provide excellent results.

Is IPL Treatment Right for You?

Dry eye syndrome isn’t something that has a permanent treatment because there are so many causes—and many come and go. But there is no reason you need to live with the constant discomfort.

IPL treatment offers the possibility of long-term relief. Contact our office today, and let’s get you in to see an optometrist who can figure out if IPL treatment is right for you.

Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Written by Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Dr. Donald J. Higgins is the founder and Medical Director of the Dry Eye Treatment Center of Connecticut, a clinic specializing in diagnosing and treating dry eye disease. This clinic features Tear Lab, Oculus with Crystal Dry Eye Report, Equinox LLLT, Lipiflow, and Lumenis OptiLight treatments.

Dr. Higgins decided to become an eye doctor his junior year in high school and has never looked back. In his undergraduate studies, Dr. Higgins received the Trustees Prize in Science, the highest award presented to a science student. He graduated from Boston College in 1978 and began attending the New England College of Optometry. After graduating in 1982, he returned to his hometown of Plainville and has been in private practice ever since.

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