Intense Pulse Light Therapy for Dry Eyes or Blepharitis

Dr. O’Rourke and her staff at the Northwest Eye Center & Essence Laser are pleased to announce a revolutionary, new treatment for Dry Eyes and Rosacea Blepharitis.

Dr. O’Rourke and her staff have treated a number of patients with IPL for dry eyes with very encouraging results.

How does IPL work? IPL is for patients with moderate to severe dry eye, blepharitis, ocular rosacea, or meibomian gland dysfunction. The treatment helps to improve the health of the meibomian glands, which produce the oil that prevents evaporation of the tear film. When this layer is unhealthy, the tears evaporate too fast, leading to blurry vision, burning of the eyes, discomfort and redness in many patients.

Is this a laser? IPL is not a laser, but is light therapy over a broad range of wavelengths, whereas laser is a single wavelength of light. A filter is used to select the range of wavelengths that is best for this treatment to warm the skin and close the abnormal blood vessels associated with rosacea and blepharitis.   IPL is FDA approved for the treatment of rosacea, and has been used for many years to treat hair removal and sun spots.

What are IPL treatments like? The area around the eye is prepped with a topical anesthetic, and an eye shield is placed to protect the eye. A thin layer of cooling gel is applied to the skin, and a handpiece attached to the light system is used to deliver the light to the upper face. As the pulse of light is administered, there is a tingling or snapping sensation that most patients tolerate quite well. The area treated may be slightly flushed and red for a short time after the treatment.

How many treatments will I need? Most patients have significant improvement with one or two treatments. Typically 4-5 treatments are given one month apart. After that maintenance treatments are given one to 2 times per year, depending on the severity of the condition.

What do I do after the treatment? After the treatment you may return to normal activities. The use of sunblock is recommended on the treated areas, as well as sunglasses.

What results can I expect? After the initial treatment, most patients report improvement in their symptoms. Studies have shown an objective increase in tear function after each treatment, with the maximum improvement happening after the fourth or fifth treatment. Depending on the severity of the problem, some patients may need more treatments than others. All patients likely will need maintenance therapy at least yearly.

What are my alternatives? For dry eye and blepharitis, traditional treatments have been lid hygiene, artificial tears, punctal plugs, cyclosporine (restasis) drops, steroid drops, non-steroidal drops, topical and systemic antibiotics. Many patients still continue some or all of these treatments, although usually at a greatly decreased rate depending on the severity of their condition and the frequency of their desired treatments.

What are the risks? IPL has been used safely for many years, but there are always risks associated with any procedure. These include, but are not limited to, hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation, infection, pain, scarring, burns, corneal abrasion, eye irritation, allergic reaction to the topical agents used, and inability to treat the condition. Whenever a procedure is done near the eye, loss of vision must be considered possible. However, in cases where eye shields have been used, no eye injuries or loss of vision have been reported.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a light therapy, which targets the Meibomian Glands (MBG) on the eyelid margin. The MBG are responsible for producing the oily layer of the tear film, which protects the aqueous layer from evaporation.

IPL improves MBG function by producing heat and clearing the MBG, and also by coagulating the blood vessels near the MBG that release inflammatory components into the eye.

By improving the MBG function, there is less inflammation and less evaporation of the the tear film, a common issue in our dry Colorado environment.

NW Eye and Essence Laser have the unique ability to treat dry eyes with light therapy. Dr. O’Rourke and her staff have been treating skin conditions with IPL for 9 years and have extensive experience with IPL. She is the only ophthalmologist who is treating dry eyes with IPL in Colorado, since most ophthalmologists don’t have access to IPL, and most dermatologists don’t feel comfortable treating around the eye.

Please see the following links for more information, including a video from the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, which is the closest center to Colorado offering this treatment.

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