Intense Pulsed Light, Eye Mask Combo Improves Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

Eye doctor checking woman's eyes
Serial sessions of a heating device immediately followed by a treatment improves clinical metrics, a report shows.

Serial sessions of a heating and vibrating eye mask immediately followed by intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy can improve ocular surface parameters and ocular discomfort symptoms in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), according to a study published in BMC Ophthalmology.

Between February 2021 and September 2021, the study included patients with MGD from a single center whose signs and symptoms were not adequately controlled with conventional therapy. Patients underwent 3 treatments performed at day 1, 15, and 45 incorporating a session with the mask immediately followed by IPL therapy. Patients were examined before the first session (T0) and 30 days after the final session (T1) for the measurement of the following parameters: noninvasive break-up time (NIBUT), lipid layer thickness (LLT), tear meniscus height (TMH), meibomian gland loss (MGL), and tear osmolarity. Ocular discomfort symptoms were determined via Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) questionnaire.  

A total of 30 patients with MGD (mean age: 56.2±13.1 years, 22 women, 8 men) were included in the analysis. In addition, data from 34 patients with MGD (mean age 49.1±12.4 years, 25 women, 9 men) who underwent IPL therapy alone during the same time period were retrospectively acquired and used as an historical control group.

In patients who were treated using the mask combined with IPL therapy, all objective ocular surface parameters besides TMH improved significantly at T1 compared with T0, according to the report. Mean values of NIBUT and LLT increased from 6.4±1.7 to 8.6±1.7 seconds and from 57.7±15.5 to 81.3±12.0 µm (all P <.001), and mean values of MGL and tear osmolarity decreased from 21.1±17.3 to 17.0±14.1% and from 302.0±8.5 to 295.7±6.9 mOsm/L (respectively, P =.004 and P <.001).

Ocular discomfort symptoms improved and mean OSDI score decreased significantly from 49.8±13.5 at T0 to 29.8±10.6 at T1 (P <.001). In patients who underwent only IPL therapy, all objective ocular surface parameters improved significantly at T1 compared with T0, except for TMH and MGL. 

“The present study showed that serial sessions incorporating the application of an eye mask producing heating and vibration immediately followed by IPL therapy are able to improve all ocular surface parameters as well as ocular discomfort symptoms in patients with MGD, while avoiding the need for using other medications (e.g. corticosteroids) apart from tear substitutes,” according to the researchers.

Limitations of the study included its single center design and the inclusion of an historical control group.


Vigo L, Pellegrini M, Carones F, Scorcia V, Giannaccare G. Outcomes of serial sessions of Activa mask combined with intense pulsed light therapy in patients with meibomian gland dysfunction. BMC Ophthalmol. Published online July 19, 2022. doi:10.1186/s12886-022-02538-0