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IPL Dry Eye Treatment Side Effects: What To Expect in Danville

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A woman undergoing IPL therapy to alleviate dry eye symptoms.

Dry eye syndrome is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s a chronic condition that causes the eyes to feel dry, gritty, and irritated. It can be frustrating to manage, but luckily, various treatments are available to help alleviate dry eye symptoms.

One of the most popular treatments for dry eyes is intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. Although this treatment has been proven to be effective, like many procedures, it does have possible side effects that you should be aware of, including:

  • Mild discomfort during treatment
  • Sensitivity to light and redness
  • Swelling around the eye

What Is IPL for Dry Eye?

IPL stands for intense pulsed light therapy, and it’s a noninvasive and safe treatment that uses broad-spectrum light to target problematic blood vessels and improve the overall function of the meibomian glands.

These glands produce the lipid layer of your tears, preventing them from evaporating too quickly and causing dryness. IPL stimulates these glands, promoting their secretion and reducing eye inflammation.

Potential Side Effects of IPL for Dry Eye

While many people experience few symptoms, some side effects can develop with treatment.

  • Mild Discomfort During Treatment: the light energy is emitted in pulses that produce a warm and tingling feeling on the treated area. This is normal and will only last a few seconds.
  • Sensitivity to Light and Redness: the light energy used in IPL therapy can cause temporary irritation. These side effects will subside within the first few hours or days.
  • Swelling: the treatment area can experience some swelling following a session, but it dissipates within hours or a few days.

It’s essential to avoid exposure to direct sunlight or bright lights immediately after the treatment to prevent further irritation.

Supplemental Dry Eye Treatments

IPL, while effective, isn’t the only dry eye treatment option available to restore hydration to your eyes.


BlephEx is a quick procedure that involves using a hand-held device to gently clean the eyelids. The device removes debris and bacteria from the eyelids, which can cause irritation and inflammation common with blepharitis and dry eye. Eyelids free of bacteria and buildup help support healthy tear production.


Lacrisert is another alternative dry eye treatment that can provide relief for people with moderate to severe dry eye. It is a small, sterile insert that is placed in the lower eyelid, where it slowly releases lubricating agents throughout the day for up to 18 hours.

Lacrisert can be used as an alternative to artificial tears and is especially helpful for people who have difficulty using eye drops.

Lid Debridement

Lid debridement is a procedure that involves cleaning the eyelids and eyelashes to remove bacteria and debris that can cause inflammation and dry eye. It can include using warm compresses to soften the debris, manual removal, and prescription medications to reduce inflammation.

Meibomian Gland Expression

Meibomian gland expression is a technique used to unclog the glands in the eyelids that produce oil. When these glands are clogged, they can’t produce quality oil to lubricate the eyes, resulting in dry eyes. The procedure involves applying warm compresses to the eyelids to soften the blockages, followed by gentle pressure to express the oil.

Prescription Eye Drops 

Prescription eye drops are an alternative to traditional over-the-counter artificial tears. These medications are designed to reduce inflammation and increase tear production in the eye. They can benefit people with moderate to severe dry eye who don’t respond well to traditional treatments.

Therapeutic Medication

Some medication formulas with higher concentrations of hyaluronic acid that are phosphate-free can help relieve dry eye. Your optometrist can prescribe a suitable formula to increase tear production.

Heat Therapy

A black heated eye mask against a white background.

Heat therapy is a home-based treatment that can help reduce dry eye symptoms. It involves applying warm compresses to the eyes for a few minutes several times daily. The heat helps unclog the oil-producing glands in the eyelids, relieving dry eyes.

Not all compresses can target the meibomian glands, so talk to your optometrist for recommendations.

Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are tiny, biocompatible devices placed in the tear ducts to block the drainage of tears from the eyes. By blocking the drainage, the plugs can help keep the eyes moist and reduce dry eye symptoms.

Nutrition Therapy

Nutrition therapy involves making dietary changes to improve the health of the tear film in the eye. This can involve increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the eye and improve tear production. Foods high in omega-3 include:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed


The TearCare system merges effective heat therapy with meibomian gland expression in a noninvasive in-office treatment. This treatment can restore comfort to the ocular surface and support healthy tear production.

Find Dry Eye Relief in Danville

Dry eye syndrome can be frustrating and painful to live with—don’t suffer through the symptoms. The eye care team at Danville Optometric Group can assess your dry eye and recommend the proper treatment for your unique health needs.From IPL to prescription relief, there are plenty of treatment options for every dry eye case. Schedule an appointment for an eye exam and take a step toward more comfortable eyes.

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Written by Dr. Gregory Tom

Dr. Tom is committed to providing comprehensive eye care to the people of Danville and prides himself on continuing to enhance his medical skills through education and training.

Graduating with honors in 1989, Dr. Tom earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UC Berkeley. He continued his education at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, graduating in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in Physiological Optics, and again in 1994 with a Doctorate in Optometry.

More Articles By Dr. Gregory Tom

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