Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL)

Intense Pulsed Light Therapy (IPL). IPL is effective for patients with moderate to severe dry eye, ocular rosacea, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), or meibomian gland dysfunction. The treatment improves the health of the meibomian glands that produce oil that prevents evaporation of the tear film. The oil keeps the tears from evaporating too fast, leading to blurry vision, burning eyes, and discomfort. In the past, IPL was used to treat hair removal and sun spots.

IPL has been FDA approved to manage extreme dry eye symptoms. It is not a cure and can be expensive, but if you have tried everything else, which I have, it may be effective for you. My cost was under $400 for each of the three sessions. Just a note: Medicare does not have it on its approved list, but you can try to get reimbursement using their form CMS-1490S.  

What is IPL

IPL is a light therapy over a broad range of wavelengths. It is not a laser. A filter is used to select the appropriate wavelength range. The light warms the skin and closes the abnormal blood vessels associated with rosacea and blepharitis.

IPL Treatment

My optometrist recommended that I have the IPL treatment as nothing else was working, and I was miserable. I had three treatments. After the first treatment, I had relief. Each treatment was three weeks apart. I might need one treatment a year.

The process

The area around the eye is prepped with a topical anesthetic. An eye shield is placed over the upper lid to protect the eye. Cooling gel is applied to the skin. A pulse of light is administered. There may be a slight tingling or snapping sensation. The area treated may be slightly flushed and red for a short time after treatment. The technician used flat tweezers to squeeze the blocked oil glands in my eyelids. I had very little pain for each procedure.

No special treatments were required between IPL sessions other than daily cleaning of the eyelids. Three of four treatments may be necessary with follow-up once or twice a year.


See your optometrist if you are suffering from moderate to severe dry eye, ocular rosacea, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids), or meibomian gland dysfunction. If nothing brings relief, IPL might be the answer to bring relief when nothing else has worked. See your optometrist.

Featured Image by Paul Diaconu from Pixabay