Health Problem: Dry eye disease (DED) is a type of ocular surface disorder. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) contributes to DED in approximately 60% of patients. The meibomian glands (MGs) are present in the upper and lower eyelids and they secrete lipids that are an important component of tears. The oily lipids float to the surface of tear solution that covers the eyes, forming a thin barrier between air and water that slows evaporation to keep the eye surface from drying out. An estimated 3.2 million women and 1.7 million men aged 50 years or older are affected by DED in the United States.

Technology Description: Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy is performed by a physician during an in-office procedure to apply high-energy pulses of light to the skin above or around the eyes with the goal of reducing inflammation and facilitating release of lipid from the MGs. IPL may cause constriction and/or ablation of dilated capillaries to reduce inflammation, reducing the amount of bacteria and other microorganisms on the eyelids and heating the MGs to soften deposits of lipids that can clog the gland ducts. Some IPL protocols involve squeezing or massaging the eyelids shortly after IPL treatment to help push out obstructing deposits.

Controversy: IPL has been used for many years to treat various conditions of the skin in dermatology clinics. However, use of IPL therapy has expanded to ophthalmology clinics in recent years where it is offered as a treatment for DED and MGD.

Key Questions:

  • Does IPL therapy provide relief from chronic DED and MGD?

  • Is IPL therapy as effective as established treatments for chronic DED and MGD?

  • Is IPL therapy associated with any safety issues?

  • Have definitive patient selection criteria been established for the use of IPL therapy for DED and MGD?

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