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Silicon Valley Eye Physicians
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Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)


Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy, which has been traditionally used as a cosmetic procedure for treating facial skin conditions, effectively treats chronic dry eye and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). In fact, IPL Therapy is among the more groundbreaking treatments for dry eye.

Home » Eye Care Services » Dry Eye » What Treatments Can Relieve Dry Eye Syndrome? » Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL) 

What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction? (MGD)

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Your meibomian glands control the lipids in the eye, called meibum, which combine with other substances in the eye area (oil, mucus, and water) to create a thin film that consistently lubricates your eyes. Meibum is an essential part of your eye’s makeup, as it prevents the evaporation of the eye’s tear film.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction occurs when the meibomian glands fail to provide enough meibum. This can be triggered by various factors and causes the tear film to evaporate at a quicker rate, leading the eyes to feel dry and uncomfortable. In fact, eighty percent of dry eye cases are due to MGD.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction manifests differently and to varying degrees of severity in different people. Some may need mild treatment while others may require more intense care. Our Dry Eye Experts will determine the right choice for your condition to get you the best possible results.

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How Does IPL Treatment Work?

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy is a painless method that delivers pulses of light to liquefy and release oils that have hardened and clogged the meibomian glands in the eyelids. IPL also reduces eyelid redness and stimulates healthy gland function.

One of our eye doctors will begin your IPL treatment by placing shields over your eyes to protect them from the light pulses. Following that, a thin layer of cooling gel will be applied to the treatment area and a small device will administer the pulses of light to the region around the eyelids. The pulses of light heat the skin around the eye and dislodge the oil buildup.

After administering IPL, we will express oil from the glands, which will restore normal oil flow in the tear film. Though patients usually notice improvement in dry eye symptoms following their first or second treatment, it is generally recommended they undergo an initial series of four IPL treatments, performed monthly over a period of four months. This ensures long-term success in treating both chronic dry eye syndrome and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction.

Depending on the severity of their dry eye condition, certain patients may require occasional maintenance treatments following the initial series of IPL treatments. It is not unusual to combine IPL treatments with other dry eye therapies in order to optimize effectiveness and promote healing.

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Optilight IPL Dry Eye Testimonial

Dr. Kevin Wu

I decided to do Optilight IPL because I had tried many other treatments before for Meibomian gland disease without significant relief. Silicon Valley Eye Physicians was one of the few offices in the Bay Area to offer this FDA approved technology.

Optilight IPL was quick without a lot of discomfort. First, Rachel applies eyeshields, cleans the surface of your eyelids and then applied a cooling gel to the surface. After a few test spots, Dr. Kevin Wu would apply the light. You would see a bright red flash and then there would be a slight rubber band snapping feeling. He would then apply the treatment across tragus to tragus with two passes and uses a smaller spot size for localized treatment. The whole procedure is efficient and both Dr. Wu and Rachel always checked in with me regarding how things were going. They were very professional and worked well as a team.

Optlight IPL has been life changing. Before it, I had tried many different treatment options without much relief. The day after my first session, my eyes were less scratchy, sandy, gritty and irritated. These symptoms continued to improve after each session. Dry eye no longer affects my quality of life thanks to IPL.

How Is IPL Different From Other Dry Eye Treatments?

Many of the treatments for dry eye syndrome, such as eye drops, artificial tears, hot compresses, and eyelid scrubs, are meant to temporarily relieve symptoms instead of treating the root cause of the condition. IPL is unique in that it targets the source – the blood vessels surrounding the glands —  enabling them to secrete oils naturally and resume their moisturizing function. This not only relieves symptoms, but also slows the progression of chronic dry eye.

If you have tried various treatments for your dry eye, and still struggle with dry eye, we can help. Contact Silicon Valley Eye Physicians to schedule your dry eye evaluation today!

Does IPL Hurt? What Can I Expect From an IPL Treatment?

The majority of patients tolerate the treatment well. It can feel like a slight snapping of a rubber band on the skin. The doctor will start with a low energy and test spot first to ensure the treatment for accuracy and effectiveness.

Before Your IPL Treatment:

● Avoid extended sun exposure for 3-4 weeks prior to treatment, including tanning beds and tanning lotions)
● Discontinue any products containing Retina-A, retinol, benzoyl peroxide, glycolic/salicylic acids, astringents or Vitamin C for one week prior and one week after treatment
● Notify us if anything changes with your health history or medications prior to each session

The Day of Your Appointment:

● Please arrive with a clean face, no creams or make-up on the treatment area if possible
● Micellar wipe will be used to clean your face prior to treatment
● Allow 45-60 minutes for the session
● Pre-treatment photos will be taken for documentation
● Eyeshield and protective goggles will be placed over your eyes and coupling gel applied to face
● Test spots will be performed first to establish energy level and may increase with each subsequent session. Each session will have 2 passes with the faceplate and 2 passes with the Optlight tip
● Your eyes will be protected but you will see a bright flash of light with each pulse

After Your IPL Treatment:

● You skin may be sensitive after: any warmth sensation, redness, and/or swelling usually resolves within several hours to 3 days post-treatment
● Your skin may feel like it has a slight sunburn for a few hours after treatment. It is ok to apply aloe vera or Aquaphor
● You may apply a clean cold washcloth to the treatment area post-treatment (avoid applying ice packs to the treatment area)
● If you experience itching after treatment, you may use an over-the-counter topical Hydrocortisone cream
● Sun spots and age spots may darken and pigmented areas may crust and begin to flake after a few days.
● Do not pick, rub, scrub, or exfoliate while healing
● Avoid hot showers and baths until the area is fully healed,cool to warm water should be used when cleansing the area
● No saunas or hot tubs until the area is full healed
● Make-up can be applied post-treatment as long as the skin is not broken, irritated, or inflamed. Avoid scrubbing or irritating the area post-treatment.
● Avoid exercise or vigorous activity at least 24 hours post-treatment
● It is crucial to avoid any sun exposure for the 1st 48 hours post-treatment. Avoid tanning as much as possible as this may enhance melanin regeneration, resulting in unwanted hyperpigmentation
● Apply sunblock with SPF 30 or higher daily. Avoid extended sun exposure and wear a hat and sunglasses when outside. Try to keep the treatment area out of the sun as much as possible for at least 4 weeks post-treatment.

Our practice serves patients from Sunnyvale, Los Altos, Mountain View, and Cupertino, California and surrounding communities.


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