Intense pulsed light (IPL) technology has the potential to revolutionize dry eye management and ocular surface disease. Selina McGee, OD, FAAO, of Edmond, OK, explored the emerging world of IPL and its implications for ocular healthcare delivery at the 2019 American Academy of Optometry meeting in Orlando.
Optometric applications of IPL
IPL is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for treating facial skin conditions, but new applications of the technology are emerging in optometry. Chief among these is the use of IPL to treat meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), dry eye disease (DED), and rosacea.
IPL stimulates facial tissue through controlled light pulses, usually used to target chromophores in the melanin or blood. The light emitted during an IPL procedure is absorbed by the oxyhemoglobin, creating heat and coagulating the vessel to reduce its appearance below the skin.
“IPL is broad spectrum; it’s non-monochromatic, non-coherent,” Dr. McGee says.
Modern IPL devices offer light therapies at wavelengths from 450 nm up to nearly 1200 nm to treat various skin types and medical conditions.
Given that there are over 80 million Americans living with some type of venous disorder, 80 percent of which are cosmetic, it is clear why IPL has seen so much success in cosmetic dermatology.1
According to Dr. McGee, IPL shows promise in the treatment of more confounding optometric conditions—such as MGD and DED.
Managing dry eye with IPL
As ODs know, MGD is a chronic, diffuse abnormality of the meibomian glands resulting in reduced tear film quality, inflammation, and ocular surface disease.
“It is a progressive disease,” Dr. McGee says.
The link between rosacea and MGD is well established, with 80 percent of rosacea patients suffering from symptoms of MGD.2-5
1. American Vein & Lymphatic Society. Patient Brochure. Available at: https://www.phlebology.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Varicose_Vein_Broc.... Accessed 11/14/19.
2. Chamaillard M, Mortemousque B, Boralevi F, Marques da Costa C, Aitali F, Taïeb A, Léauté-Labrèze C. Cutaneous and ocular signs of childhood rosacea. Arch Dermatol. 2008 Feb;144(2):167-71.
3. Cetinkaya A, Akova YA. Pediatric ocular acne rosacea: long-term treatment with systemic antibiotics. Am J Ophthalmol. 2006 Nov;142(5):816-21.
4. Shiffman RM, Walt JG, Jacobsen G, Doyle JJ, Lebovics G, Sumner W. Utility assessment among patients with dry eye disease. Ophthalmology. 2003 Jul;110(7):1412-9.
5. Mertzanis P, Abetz L, Rajagopalan K, Espindle D, Chalmers R, Snyder C, Caffery B, Edrington T, Simpson T, Nelson JD, Begley C. The relative burden of dry eye in patients’ lives: a comparison to a US normative sample. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2005 Jan;46(1):46-50.