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Intense Pulsed Light - IPL

Intense pulsed light (IPL) has been used in dermatology for several years to treat rosacea, acne, and skin pigmentation. (Goldberg, 2012, Kawana et al., 2007, Schroeter et al., 2005).

The use of IPL for meibomian gland dysfunction was first reported over 15 years ago. In 2015, Craig et al reported on a prospective randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. In this study, the partner eye of the treatment eye underwent sham treatment as a control. The treatment eye had improved tear film quality and symptoms (Craig et al., 2015). A retrospective case series described improvement in meibum expressibility and dry eye symptoms in 77% and 89% of patients, respectively, after combination treatment with IPL and manual expression (Vegunta et al., 2016).

IPL uses a xenon flash lamp that emits light wavelengths from 400 to 1200 nm. Special filters limit the wavelengths. When applied to the skin, these cause the blood cells in the abnormal telangiectasias to absorb the light, coagulate and then close the blood vessels.

IPL also causes the skin to gently heat up and promote blood flow which has the pleasant side effect of smoothing delicate wrinkles around the eyes in the treated area. The IPL light will also generate deep heat directed at the glands in the skin. This causes the abnormal blood vessels that cause the inflammation of the meibomian glands and eyelid inflammation to recede.



Pulsed energetic light has been used in dermatology for many years. IPL treatment, which is particularly gentle on tissue, is used for both medical and cosmetic indications.


Applications include permanent hair removal, reduction of pigmented and vascular lesions, wrinkle smoothing and skin rejuvenation.

The light pulses additionally stimulate collagen production and strengthen collagen fibers, shrinking large pores and softening wrinkles.   


Clinical research shows that IPL treatments of dry eye or MGD

  • destroy the abnormal blood vessels that maintain inflammation [1. 2.]

  • decrease the level of pro-inflammatory mediators and inhibit the progression of inflammation [3. 4.]

  • reduce the osmolarity of the tear film back to normal levels  [5. 6.]

  • restore the morphology and functionality of the meibomian glands  [7.]

  • decrease the demodex mites that stimulate infection and lead to MGD. [8.]

1. Kassir et al. (2011) J Cosmet Laser Ther 13 (5): 216-22.
2. Papageorgiou et al. (2008) Br J Dermatol 159 (3): 628-32.

3. Liu et al. (2017), Am J Ophthalmol 183: 81-90.

4. Yin et al. (2018), Curr Eye Res 43 (3): 308-13.

5. Dell et al. (2017) Clin Ophthalmol 11: 817-27.

6. Toyos & Briscoe (2016), J Clin Exp Ophthalmol DOI: 10.4172 / 2155-9570.1000619.

7. Yin et al. (2018), Curr Eye Res 43 (3): 308-13.

8. Prieto et al. (2002) Lasers Surg Med 30 (2): 82-5.

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