Oculase Articles

Treating Dry Eyes with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Mr Tariq Ayoub - 30 Jun 2022

Do you have itchy, red, sore eyes or suffer from dry eyes? IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatment for dry eyes is an effective and pain-free treatment to treat dry eyes caused by blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). This treatment improves the quality of your tears and provides symptomatic relief for your dry eyes. In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about IPL treatment.

IPL treatment for dry eyes

What is IPL treatment?

We first need to understand the cause of dry eyes. Up to 50% of dry eyes are caused by blepharitis or meibomian gland dysfunction (GD). IPL uses gentle pulses of light to treat the underlying causes of dry eye.

The pulses of light target the eyelids reducing inflammation and any associated bacterial growth in the area around your eyes. This treatment treats blepharitis and MGD and subsequently slows the progression of chronic dry eye in addition to giving you symptom relief.

If you’ve had limited relief with other dry eye treatments then IPL treatment may be the option for you.

How does IPL work?

The oil glands in the eyelid margins produce oil to moisture and protect the surface of the eye. In blepharitis, these meibomian oil glands are blocked and/or inflamed. Therefore, the glands are unable to secrete oil onto the surface of the eye resulting in dry eyes. The problem is further exacerbated in patients with facial or ocular rosacea as they have abnormally dilated blood vessels (telangiectasia) along the eyelid margins.

The light pulses in IPL help open up these block glands and liquify the oils in them. The pulses also close the abnormal vessels seen in rosacea and rejuvenate the skin cells.  IPL has become a popular treatment in people with skin rosacea.

How successful is the procedure?

If your dry eyes are due to blepharitis or MGD, IPL has been shown to work very well in giving you symptomatic relief and treating your blepharitis. However. you must complete the course of treatment and continue with regular lid cleaning afterwards to realise the full effects of the treatment.

At Oculase, we include a minimum of three treatments with IPL. Any additional treatments required within the first six months after your initial treatment is also included. Generally, patients require one top-up treatment annually to maintain the effects.

How quickly does the treatment work?

You may notice an improvement within a few hours of your first treatment. However, one treatment is not enough to realise the full benefits. Studies have shown that at least three treatments are required (sometimes four) to give you the full effect. These treatments are spread over a period of 3-4 months.

Who should not have IPL treatment?

You should not have the procedure if you:

  • have used tanning beds 4 weeks prior to treatment
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have any moles or warts around your eyes or face
  • had cancer treatment around the eyes or face
  • have a history of keloid scarring
  • suffer from psoriasis, lupus or any other connective tissue disorder
  • had metal plates, rods or screws inserted around your eyes or face.

Additionally, there is risk of skin depigmentation around the area of treatment.

What are the side-effects of the treatment?

There are no known serious complications to IPL treatment. However, you may experience some mild side-effects including:

  • Itching and redness of the eyes
  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Lightening or darkening of the skin in the treated area. This is usually temporary but can be permanent in some people

How long does the treatment take?

IPL treatment takes approximately 15mins per session. At the end of the session, we will gently massage your eyelids to unblock the glands.

Will I need to use any eye drops after the procedure?

Yes, you must continue using your regular lubricant eye drops and continue with regular warm compress and massage.

Can I drive home after IPL treatment?

Yes, you can drive home after the procedure, although we always recommend you have someone to help you.

Can the treatment be used to treat the dark circles around my eyes?

IPL treatment is not licensed for the treatment of dark circles around your eyes. However, anecdotal reports suggest that it does reduce dark circles in some people.


Have you got sore, itchy eyes or considering treatment for dry eyes? Why not book a consultation in our London clinic.

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