March 15, 2023
Dry eye disease is a prevalent condition that unfortunately affects many people worldwide. It is typically caused by several factors. They include aging, medications, and autoimmune disorders, to name a few. One of the main contributors to DED is a dysfunction in the meibomian glands. This gland produces the oily layer of the tear film that prevents evaporation and keeps the eyes moist.
What Is IPL Therapy?
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is a new and innovative treatment for DED. It is noninvasive and utilizes high-intensity light to target the meibomian glands in the eyelids. In turn, this stimulates their function and promotes healthy oil production. The question remains—can IPL regenerate meibomian glands?
How Does IPL Therapy Work?
To understand the answer to this question, you need to dive deeper into the mechanism of IPL therapy and how it affects the meibomian glands. IPL therapy delivers controlled bursts of light energy to the eyelids' skin, penetrating it and reaching the meibomian glands.
The gland cells absorb light energy, stimulating their metabolism and causing them to produce more oil. The heat generated by the light energy also softens any blockages or impurities in the glands. This can then be easily expressed through gentle manual expression or gland probing.
Can IPL Improve Your Meibomian Function?
Studies have shown that IPL therapy can improve meibomian gland function and reduce the signs and symptoms of DED. A study published in the journal Ophthalmology in 2015 found that IPL therapy significantly increased meibomian gland function and reduced tear film evaporation in patients with moderate to severe DED.
Another study published in Cornea in 2017 found that IPL therapy improved meibomian gland expressibility. It also reduced ocular surface inflammation in patients with mild to moderate DED.
What Are the Pros and Cons of IPL?
While IPL therapy has shown promising results in improving meibomian gland function, it is important to note that it may not regenerate damaged glands. If the meibomian glands have been severely damaged or atrophied, regenerating them through any therapy may not be achievable.
Still, IPL therapy can be beneficial in:
Improving the functioning of the remaining healthy glands.
Relieving the symptoms of DED.
Remember that IPL therapy is not a one-time treatment. You may need multiple sessions to achieve optimal results.
Typically, IPL therapy is performed in a series of four to six sessions spaced several weeks apart. The number of sessions you undergo will vary with the severity of your DED and how you respond to the treatment.
While IPL therapy may not be able to regenerate damaged meibomian glands entirely, it can still be an effective treatment for improving gland function, reducing inflammation, and relieving the symptoms of DED. If you are suffering from DED, seek medical help from your eye doctor.
They will help determine the best course of treatment for your specific situation. Your eye doctor may recommend IPL therapy or a combination of therapies. These include artificial tears, omega-3 supplements, and lifestyle changes. All these aim to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
For more on IPL therapy, call East Main Vision Clinic in Puyallup at (253) 780-0700 to discuss any IPL therapy or dry eye questions today.