Intense pulsed light (IPL) technology is a scientifically-accepted technique of managing various skin conditions, such as vascular lesions, pigmented lesions, rosacea, sunlight damage, and acne, as well as for removing unwanted hair. IPL devices were manufactured for the first time in 1994, focused largely to dermatologists.
They are sometimes referred to as lasers. But IPL devices are actually different from lasers because the light originates from a ultra-bright, high-energy flashlamp that emits light of varied wavelengths (which means they are of various colours). In contrast, real lasers have a medium that produces|are designed to emit light of uniform wavelength (and just one colour).
IPL light has wavelengths of 420-1200 nanometres. By introducing the appropriate cut-off filters, the doctor can block shorter wavelengths and permit only longer wavelengths to pass through. Wavelengths can be selected in relation to the depth of the target structure. The light is introduced either as one pulse or in divided mini-pulses separated by short intervals to to prevent too much heat from building up and damaging the skin as light hits the tissue.
The capacity to induce heat on target tissues opened new ideas for employing IPL devices to provide treatment for meibomian gland dysfunction (alternatively known as MGD, meibomitis, and posterior blepharitis). In 2002-2003, IPL technology was harnessed for MGD treatment for the first time.
MGD is one of the principal causes of dry eye syndrome. MGD comes from a variety of causes, making it a very complicated disease to treat. But it generally entails inflammation of the meibomian, or oil-secreting, glands in the eyelids when too thick or hardened meibomian gland secretions stop up its opening at the eyelid margin. The dysfunction induces the meibomian glands to secrete an excess of oil, inadequate oil, or oil that is too viscous or of abnormal quality. As a result, the tear film gets unstable and tears evaporate too swiftly from the eye surface, creating the burning, itching, gritty sensations and other symptoms of dry eye.
MGD treatments with IPL equipment select a narrow band of light wavelengths (500-800 nm) to produce heat on the skin of the eyelids. The minuscule blood vessels directly under the epidermis take in the light and as their temperature rises, the congealed secretions of the meibomian glands begin to melt and the glands open up. The doctor then applies some pressure on the glands to remove all the troublesome secretions. The heat also drives out skin and eyelid microbes, such as parasites and bacteria that can exacerbate MGD. If you think of the time-tested warm compress, you’ll find the IPL device is essentially its high-tech version.
In most cases, only the glands in the lower eyelids are treated. Heat produced in the lower lids is conveyed to the upper glands. The warming benefit thus rubs off on them indirectly, also inducing them to expand and allowing gland expression to be done. The IPL intervention helps restore to normal the volume and quality of the meibomian gland secretions, providing relief from dry eye symptoms.
The treatment programme involves three or four sessions, spread over a four-month schedule. The moment secretions become less viscous and the glands start working normally, maintenance sessions will be scheduled, perhaps once or twice a year.