Dry Eye is a common condition that many of us suffer with especially in Calgary's dry climate and high altitude. Many of us find that eye drops are not providing enough help with the problem. Symptoms of dry eye usually include eye redness, a gritty or sanding feeling in your eyes, burning, fluctuation in vision where at times you can see well and other times it's hard to focus, and excessive tearing is also common with dry eye. Many of these symptoms are also common with allergies but a way to distinguish between the two is if you're eyes are itchy and you notice these symptoms only happen seasonally than it's probably an allergy causing the issue.
The most common way to treat dry eye is using drop such as artificial tears or artificial gels or prescription drops such as Restasis, which can help you to make more tears. However, there are a certain number of people where these types of treatments just aren’t enough. One of the biggest causes of dry eye is that sufferers do not create enough oil, our eyes are coated with both water and oil and that oil sits on top of the water and helps prevent that water from evaporating, so if you don't have good oil it doesn't matter how many drops you put into your eyes you are still going to be symptomatic. A lot of the recent treatments are now focused on improving the production of our oil as opposed to just replacing the water or tears.
There are some at home treatments you can try for dry eye which include the application of heat onto the eyelids and taking natural oil supplements such as fish oil and flax seed oil which all help us make better oil. These may still not be enough for people but at Crescent Heights Dry Eye Clinic we offer several new treatments, one that we are very excited about which is Intense Pulse Light (IPL) therapy. The treatment is a five to ten minute office procedure with no downtime so you can go back to the office or drive right away and it consists of a number of light treatments that are placed on your eyelid. By placing the lights on your eyelids it provides heat, which helps to break up and loosen thicker oil deposits that might be clogging normal oil flow. The other thing that it does is to help shrink blood vessels in the eyelids which may cause inflammation which prevents our tissues from working well so by diminishing the inflammation that gets to the eye we have better functioning oil glands which will help with symptom improvement.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy, a common dermatology treatment used to address rosacea, sun damage, and acne scarring of the skin, is now available to address chronic dry eye disease and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction of the eyelids. IPL Therapy for dry eye is one of the most ground-breaking approaches to treating dry eye disease, and the advanced dry eye clinic at Crescent Heights Optometry.
What's involved in an IPL Treatment?
IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, has been cleared for treatment by the FDA in over 20 different skin indications. It works by delivering light pulses that penetrate the skin, heating abnormal blood vessels below the surface to heal inflammation of the skin and eyelids. The process is performed with maximal safety and comfort and is fully customizable to the patient’s skin type and condition.
Your doctor will begin your IPL treatment by placing shields over the eyes to protect them from the light pulses. Then, a thin layer of cooling gel is applied to the treatment area and a small device is used to administer the pulses of light to the area around the eyelids. The pulses of light help heat, liquefy, and loosen oils that have clogged the eyelids’ meibomian glands. During treatment, patients report feeling a warm sensation, however, IPL should not feel uncomfortable. After the IPL light treatment is complete, one of our experienced eye doctors is able to manually express oil from the glands and restore normal oil flow in the tear film. Oil is a very important component of the tears and prevents the tears from evaporation, which can lead to dryness. You will also be advised to avoid direct sun exposure for several days after treatment and to apply SPF.
Although many people notice improvement in dry eye symptoms after their first or second treatment, your doctor will recommend an initial series of four IPL treatments, performed once a month over the course of four months. This initial treatment bundle is designed to help with long-term success in treating both chronic dry eye disease and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), the root cause of dry eye disease.
After the initial series of IPL dry eye treatments, most people will need only occasional maintenance treatments, depending on the severity of their dry eye condition. Your doctor may also recommend combining IPL treatments with other dry eye therapies such as LipiFlow®, punctal plugs, or medications to maximize effectiveness and enhance symptom relief.
Why is IPL a better solution than Home Remedies?
Many common treatments for dry eye disease – such as artificial tears, hot compresses, and eyelid scrubs – focus on temporarily relieving symptoms instead of on treating the cause of the condition. IPL therapy is designed to address Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), the root cause of evaporative dry eye. By focusing treatment on MGD, your doctor is able to not only offer symptom relief, but also to slow the progression of your chronic dry eye condition.
If you have tried various forms of treatment and medications for your dry, irritated eyes with little success or relief, then the advanced dry eye clinic at Crescent Heights Optometry can be of help. Call or schedule an appointment with us today to get more information on our dry eyes treatments.