There is an exciting new treatment for Dry Eye Disease (DED) at Eye Care Associates of Nevada, especially for patients with ocular rosacea. These dry eye patients have a specific underlying inflammation that is fueling the disease process. Here are some facts about this new treatment and how it can help with dry eye.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is an inflammatory disease that causes redness of the skin; patients tend to be lighter in skin complexion, sunburn easily, and have facial flushing that worsens with alcohol consumption or spicy foods. The disease can involve skin and tissue around the eyes (ocular rosacea) – in which the inflammation may lead to meibomian gland dysfunction and a multitude of dry eye symptoms, including grittiness, scratchiness, burning, stinging, fluctuations in vision that clear with blinking, eye fatigue, or excessive tearing.
What is IPL?
Intensive Pulse Laser, or IPL, is an FDA-approved treatment for acne and rosacea that has been used in dermatology over the years. Recently, ophthalmology has discovered the therapeutic effects for helping patients with ocular rosacea to minimize the impact of dry eye disease.
How does it work?
This is an in-office medical device. A doctor or trained staff uses a flash lamp that emits specific wavelengths of light to help cauterize leaky blood vessels found in the skin’s surface. These leaky blood vessels are a primary source of inflammatory mediators to the eye, which cause redness, poor tear film stability, and discomfort. Most patients will receive four treatments 3-4 weeks apart, and occasional maintenance treatments depending on skin complexion and severity of dry eye. By cutting off the source of inflammation with IPL, the tear and oil glands can be restored to a healthy state, helping to bring stability to the patient’s tear film and overall enhanced comfort of their eyes.
What are the side effects?
The short-term side effects include slight redness and tenderness – similar to sunburn. This will require sunscreen protection for 1-2 weeks post-treatment. The long-term effects include a reduction of leaky blood vessels that ultimately leads to overall less surface redness. There are also cosmetic changes around the treated areas. The treatment tightens up the collagen in the skin around the eyes, which may reduce wrinkles. There are also some reports of darker sunspots being removed due to treatment. Dermatologists have been using this as a cosmetic procedure for many years due to these benefits!
I’m currently using other medications for dry eye – do I still continue other dry eye therapy with IPL treatment?
Your eye doctor will recommend which treatments to use before and after this procedure. Patients who continue with their dry eye therapy will often notice an enhanced therapeutic response after the IPL sessions due to a different mechanism of action. Despite the complexity and multiple factors involved with dry eye disease, there are compounding benefits to treatment if prescribed strategically. Ask your doctor at Eye Care Associates of Nevada for any additional questions on IPL and dry eye treatment.