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How Long Does IPL Dry Eye Treatment Last?

A woman being treated with IPL on the area below her eye.

For about 30% of Canadians, dry eyes are a near-constant irritation. They can happen because the eyes don’t create enough tears or because an imbalance in the tear film causes tears to evaporate too quickly. Whatever the reason, if you’re the one dealing with dry eyes, you probably just want relief.

Fortunately, there are options for you. Rather than letting your dry eye disease progress into something more severe, consider asking your optometrist about intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. It’s a newer light-based treatment that can offer patients 6 months to 1 year of relief from dry eye symptoms.

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye disease is a common condition that occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears or are of poor quality. This lack of moisture in the eyes can lead to a range of symptoms, including:

  • Eye dryness and discomfort
  • Burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Redness or irritation in the eyes
  • Watery eyes (as the body tries to compensate for the lack of tears)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • A feeling of something in the eye

What Causes Dry Eyes?

The most common cause of dry eyes is meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), in which a build-up of debris blocks the tiny glands in your eyelids that produce an oil called meibum. MGD is the cause of nearly 80% of all cases of dry eye.

Three layers of mostly water and nutrients make up your tear film and keep your eyes moisturized. The innermost layer consists of meibum oil, produced from the meibomian glands, and is what protects your tear film from evaporating too fast. MGD occurs when these glands are blocked or inflamed, leading to an evaporative dry eye.

How Does IPL Work?

IPL utilizes a medical device that soothes an area with broad wavelengths and light pulses. Initially designed for dermatology, IPL has been shown to be effective in treating dry eye caused by MGD.

Your average session of IPL treatment is like this:

  • Your optometrist will place protective shields over your eyes to protect them from the light.
  • Next, they’ll spread a thin layer of cooling gel underneath your eyes
  • Using a small device, your optometrist will deliver light pulses around the eyelids, helping your meibomian glands release any clogs.
  • Depending on the therapy’s effectiveness, your doctor may also manually express oil from these glands.

It is important to note that IPL dry eye treatment is not a permanent cure for dry eyes. While it can provide significant relief from symptoms, most people will need ongoing treatment to maintain the benefits of IPL therapy.

A woman receiving an IPL treatment while laying.

Does IPL Hurt?

In general, IPL dry eye treatment is a safe and effective option for many people with dry eyes. It’s typically well-tolerated, with few side effects. However, some people may experience temporary redness or swelling of the eyes after treatment, but these symptoms usually resolve on their own within a few days.

If you’re considering IPL dry eye treatment, discussing the potential risks and benefits with your eye doctor is important. They will be able to provide you with information about the treatment and help you determine if it is the right option for you.

After IPL Treatment

So, how long does IPL dry eye treatment last? The answer is that it can vary significantly from person to person. Some people may experience relief from their dry eye symptoms for several months after just one treatment, while others may need ongoing treatment to maintain the benefits.

Several factors can affect the duration of IPL dry eye treatment, including:

  • The severity of the dry eye: People with more severe dry eye symptoms may require more frequent treatments or a longer course to achieve the desired results.
  • The underlying cause of the dry eyes: If the dry eyes are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as Sjögren’s syndrome or rheumatoid arthritis, the duration of the treatment may be longer.
  • The individual’s response to treatment: Some people may respond better to IPL therapy than others.
  • The frequency of treatment: Some people may need more frequent treatments to maintain the benefits, while others may only need occasional treatments to keep their symptoms at bay.

Curious About Dry Eye Therapy?

Regular intense pulsed light therapy sessions have proven effective for many people, with up to 93% of patients satisfied with the results. It can offer longer-lasting relief from the gritty scratchiness that dry eyes cause by treating the root of the problem, blockages in the meibomian gland.IPL treatment is only one of eyeDOCS Ottawa’s options for relief from dry eye. So if you’re tired of scratchy eyes and are ready to begin the path to comfortable vision, come in and talk with one of our eye care experts today.

Written by Dr. David Featherstone, OD

Dr. Featherstone was born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario. He attended the University of Waterloo, graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science. He obtained his Doctorate of Optometry from the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science in 2015.

Dr. Featherstone joined eyeDOCS in 2015. Most recently, he completed an international clerkship at the Jack C. Montgomery Veterans Affairs hospital in Oklahoma, with a special focus on management of ocular diseases, including glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetes, inflammation, and vascular conditions. He also completed internships in Halifax with an emphasis on geriatric eye care and low vision services; and in Ottawa with the eyeDOCS clinics, where he gained experience in primary care. Dr. Featherstone became the owner of eyeDOCS Barrhaven in 2019.

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