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How Many Treatments of IPL Do You Need?

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Innovative treatments for eye conditions and diseases are developing all the time. Advancements in research and modern technology have allowed eye care providers across the country to learn more about (and treat more) eye conditions than ever before.

IPL is a treatment that can help patients alleviate painful, irritating symptoms of dry eye. But what is IPL and what exactly is required to treat dry eye with this procedure? We’ve outlined everything you need to know here and we’re proud to offer our evidence based and optimized IPL treatments through Vector Eye Centre, a leading dry eye clinic in Calgary, Alberta. 

What Is Intense Pulsed Light Therapy?

IPL, or intense pulsed light therapy, is a procedure that uses gentle pulses of light to heat your eyelids and treat dry eye. By targeting the skin around the eyes, IPL can reduce inflammation and improve tear production by breaking up trapped oils in the meibomian glands.  Our IPL treatments, with specific customized settings, can also help prevent the progression and loss of unhealthy meibomian glands.

Dry eye can be caused by a variety of reasons, but often a fundamental cause of your symptoms has to do with the quality or volume of your tears. 

Your tears are made of 3 layers: fatty oils, aqueous fluid, and mucus. This combination has to be just right to keep the eyes hydrated and clear. If there is an issue with the production of one of these layers, it can lead to dry eye.

IPL treats meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) which occurs when the oil layer of your tears isn’t sufficiently produced, resulting in your tears evaporating too quickly. IPL works to release trapped oils and clear out the glands to stimulate more production. 

A dry eye consultation, at Vector Eye Centre, is required in order to properly diagnose dry eye and the underlying causes. We can review your history and symptoms, and carry out a detailed evaluation,  to discover the cause of your dry eye and recommend a treatment that works for you. 

IPL can also be used to treat facial redness, superficial blood vessels and some forms of unwanted skin spotting. 

Who Can Benefit from IPL?

Patients who struggle with dry eye symptoms can benefit greatly from IPL treatments. The signs and symptoms of dry eye, which usually affect both eyes, can include:

  • Redness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Frequent tearing
  • Stringy mucus in/around eyes
  • A burning, itching, or stinging sensation
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty with nighttime driving
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue
A hand wearing a medical glove holds out the handheld device from and IPL machine.

How Does IPL Work

IPL is a relatively quick procedure performed in the office. 

Before starting your treatment, a technician will ensure you’re comfortable. They’ll place protective shields over your eyes and apply a cooling gel to the treatment area.

Using the IPL device, we will apply intense pulses of light to the lower lid and upper cheek bone areas of the face to loosen the buildup in your eye’s oil glands. 

Following application of IPL, we will gently express the warmed & loosened oil from your eyes and stimulate production. 

We will provide you with all of your pre- and post-care instructions, as well as information about your specific treatment. Ask one of the experts, at Vector Eye Centre, by visiting our website. 

Things To Know

At Vector Eye Centre, IPL is performed and only required over 3 appointments spaced 3 to 6 weeks apart.  Based on our model and optimized IPL settings, our research studies show that only 3 treatments of our IPL are required for significant patient symptomatic improvement. Many patients will notice an improvement in dry eye symptoms after the 2nd or 3rd treatment. In more serious cases, your doctor may recommend additional treatments. 

IPL is not a permanent solution on its own. Once the glands are open and functional, it is best for the patient to manage and maintain them with regular warm compresses and lid massage, and blinking fully when performing focused tasks. Some patients may benefit from a maintenance IPL treatment every 6 to 12 months depending on the severity of their symptoms.  However, these additional treatments are usually not required with the IPL model offered at Vector Eye Centre. 

Each treatment of IPL is quick and fairly comfortable, so you can return to your daily activities after your treatments are over.  It’s important to always wear sunscreen, especially before, during, and after your IPL treatments. 

You can still use artificial tears and other treatment methods with IPL to help you see comfortably. It’s best to talk to your doctor about what you can do in between treatments.

Is IPL Right for Me?

The only way to know if IPL is right for you is to schedule a dry eye consultation. Our doctors will review your medical history and symptoms to determine the best treatment for your eyes. Contact us today to schedule your appointment or check out our website to learn more!

Written by Dr. Jamie Bhamra

Dr. Jamie Bhamra is an ophthalmologist with advanced training in cataract and corneal surgery, including refractive surgery, corneal cross-linking, external disease, ocular surface disease, and dry eye disease. He practices comprehensive ophthalmology in Calgary, Alberta.
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