6 things to know about new dry eye treatment

HOUSTON – A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes, sensitivity to light or eye redness could all be symptoms of dry eye. And now doctors have a new way to treat it.

Houston-area optometrist Dr. Allan Panzer says the new process will help treat dry eye issues in as little as four treatments.

KPRC 2 reporter Sofia Ojeda met with Panzer, who showed her how the treatment works.

What is Intense Pulse Light?

It’s a treatment that has been used by dermatologists for decades to smooth skin and fine lines and it’s now being used to treat dry eye.

Panzer says it’s been very successful, and if nothing you’ve tried before has worked, you may want to consider this.

The treatment is called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) and it was first used for skin issues like rosacea to close tiny blood vessels that feed inflammation to the eye.

Panzer says patients undergoing the treatment for the skin condition started claiming their dry eyes also improved, so doctors began to do some research.

"Those vessels are feeder vessels. They feed the inflammation to the eye and by closing them we decrease inflammation to the eye," Panzer said. "Then decreasing the inflammation to the eye will make the eye feel better."

How does IPL work?

First, a clear gel is spread across the cheeks. Then the doctor uses the wand to shoot rays of the intense pulsed light into the skin, pausing after each time.

Panzer says the IPL is scattered across the patient’s face while their eyes are covered. The heat in the skin actually spreads to the eyes, shrinking the tiny blood vessels. However, it will likely take more than one treatment to see results.

"It is a process," Panzer said. "So many times the person will have one treatment and say, 'I don't feel better,' so it takes several treatments to get these little feeder vessels to quit feeding inflammation to the eye."

What are some of the other benefits?

And if you aren't too keen on this treatment just yet, Panzer says you will like knowing that IPL also kills tiny microscopic bugs called Demodex that live on your eyelids.

"The other thing you are doing is reducing the mites that live on your skin," Panzer said. "These are normal. They are symbiotic mites, but if you have too many of them they will plug up the glands, and this light seems to kill them."

Does it hurt?

Panzer says the process is quick, it lasts a few minutes, and the pain level is not too bad. It is like a rubber band snap on the skin.

Patients also mentioned feeling the heat around their noses.

Panzer says the machine they use is specific to the eyes, and there are different levels of light intensity they will use for the patient depending on the patient’s skin color.

Panzer says you will need about four treatments to start feeling the results.

Does Insurance cover IPL? How much does it cost?

Insurance will likely not cover this treatment for dry eye. Panzer says it is about $400 a treatment or four treatments for $1200.00.

For more information on Panzer and IPL visit Houstondryeyeclinic.com.

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