Not All IPL Devices Are Created Equal

December 5, 2023
Cory J. Lappin
Cory J. Lappin, OD, MS, FAAO
Phoenix Eye Care and the Dry Eye Center of Arizona

Dr. Cory J. Lappin is in practice at Phoenix Eye Care and the Dry Eye Center of Arizona. He is a member of the American Academy of Optometry, the American Optometric Association, the Arizona Optometric Association, and the Tear Film and Ocular Surface Society (TFOS). Dr. Lappin currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Arizona Optometric Association.

When the late Dr. Art Epstein and I first started using Lumenis IPL a few years ago, we were drawn in by the clinical data and the great word-of-mouth we were hearing from other early adopters in the dry eye field. However, nothing prepared us for the amazing results we saw in our first few patients. For the first time, we were treating multiple underlying mechanisms of dry eye disease in a single treatment modality and delivering a whole new level of therapy for our patients. The technology transformed our practice. Soon, between the two of us, we were treating nearly 50 patients per week, and we now have two systems in our practice.

Today, we’re seeing some new entrants in the IPL market for dry eye. Many were developed for use in aesthetics, while others are aimed at eye care, however none of these other IPL devices has been FDA approved for this purpose. That’s one of the reasons why we rely on OptiLIGHT by Lumenis, the company that invented IPL technology, when treating our dry eye patients.

  • Only Lumenis’ IPL technology is FDA approved for the management of dry eye disease. While other IPL devices may be FDA approved for aesthetics, Lumenis is the first and only technology to earn FDA approval for the management of dry eye disease due to MGD. That means eye care practitioners can use OptiLIGHT with confidence. I’ve found that my patients are, in fact, curious about FDA approval and ask me directly if the treatment is approved. They are pleased when I respond, “Yes, the IPL technology we’re using is FDA approved for the management of dry eye.” This is a distinct advantage and a huge boost in credibility that is absent with other IPL devices.
  • Safety, efficacy and efficiency are built in. OptiLIGHT’s clinically validated, embedded settings and the Optimal Pulse Technology (OPTTM) allow us to deliver effective treatment with confidence and ease.1 With OptiLIGHT, you don’t have to scour countless clinical studies and guidelines to find the appropriate treatment It’s already loaded with pre-programmed settings based on clinical study results. Just enter the patient’s Fitzpatrick skin type, and you’re ready to go. The settings are also robust and efficient, thanks to the patented OPT TM at the heart of OptiLIGHT, which delivers exceptionally consistent, high-energy, no-spike pulses, making treatment effective, safe and comfortable for the patient.1
  • The OPT handpiece is made exclusively for delicate eye areas. With OptiLIGHT, we are treating the malar area from tragus to tragus. Other IPL systems rely on the large IPL handpiece traditionally used in aesthetics. OptiLight has both the larger handpiece tip with SapphireCool technology for broad areas and a smaller patented OPT TM handpiece with the OptiTip specifically designed to deliver treatment in tight areas and the fine contours under the lower eyelids. This advanced handpiece is a game-changer that optimizes treatment for the delicate periocular region with exceptional visibility and an intuitive user experience.
  • OptiLIGHT is backed by extensive research-based data Lumenis invented IPL, and its OPT™ technology has been validated for the improvement of dry eye disease in more than 50 studies. I’ve found that’s far above and beyond any other IPL technology marketed for eye care. OptiLIGHT’s technology has been shown to reduce inflammatory markers,2 alleviate telangiectasia,3,4 improve the structure and function of meibomian glands,5 and decrease Demodex burden,6 with each of these benefits being backed by clinical research.

These are just a few of the primary reasons I believe OptiLIGHT is in a class by itself. I’ll add that I’ve spoken with a few colleagues who use other IPL devices who aren’t seeing the same results for their patients that I get with OptiLIGHT. I also get some questions about low-level light therapy (LLLT) versus IPL, and I explain that LLLT’s wavelengths are just a subset of those produced by OptiLIGHT, so I don’t find it necessary to use any LLLT-specific devices.

When it comes to questions about IPL technology for dry eye, I always recommend that colleagues get hands-on experience with OptiLIGHT to understand the quality of the device, its level of engineering, and the evidence-based pre-embedded settings. Because, for me, all these factors directly translate to the therapeutic advantages of OptiLIGHT that make it a cornerstone treatment for patients in our dry eye clinic.

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1. Toyos R, Desai NR, Toyos M, Dell SJ. Intense pulsed light improves signs and symptoms of dry eye disease due to meibomian gland dysfunction: A randomized controlled study. PLoS One. 2022;17(6):e0270268. Published 2022 Jun 23. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0270268
2. Liu R, Rong B, Tu P, et al. Analysis of Cytokine Levels in Tears and Clinical Correlations After Intense Pulsed Light Treating Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Am J Ophthalmol. 2017;183:81-90. doi:10.1016/j.ajo.2017.08.021
3. Kassir R, Kolluru A, Kassir M. Intense pulsed light for the treatment of rosacea and telangiectasias. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2011;13(5):216-222. doi:10.3109/14764172.2011.613480
4. Papageorgiou P, Clayton W, Norwood S, Chopra S, Rustin M. Treatment of rosacea with intense pulsed light: significant improvement and long-lasting results. Br J Dermatol. 2008;159(3):628-632. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2008.08702.x
5. Yin Y, Liu N, Gong L, Song N. Changes in the Meibomian Gland After Exposure to Intense Pulsed Light in Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) Patients. Curr Eye Res. 2018;43(3):308-313. doi:10.1080/02713683.2017.1406525
6. Prieto VG, Sadick NS, Lloreta J, Nicholson J, Shea CR. Effects of intense pulsed light on sun-damaged human skin, routine, and ultrastructural analysis. Lasers Surg Med. 2002;30(2):82-85. doi:10.1002/lsm.10042

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