Using a heated eye mask (HEM) can improve outcomes of intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy in the treatment of evaporative dry eye disease (DED), according to a study published in Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery. The research shows that both IPL alone and the combined approach improves the quality of the tear film lipid layer (TFLL) and clinically reduces DED signs and symptoms.
DED can be caused by impaired tear production, excessive tear film evaporation (evaporative dry eye [EDE]), or a combination. Prior research shows IPL can DED symptoms, but this is the first to review the use of a heated eye mask in combination with IPL on evaporative dry eye disease.
The study’s participants were divided into 3 groups: the IPL+HEM group, the IPL alone group, and a group of health participants used as a control. The mean age of participants in the IPL and heated eye mask group was 28.066±3.88 years, the IPL alone group was 29.88±4.68 years, and for participants in the control group the mean age was 28.52±3.77 years.
The change in (baseline minus day 84) noninvasive tear breakup time (NITBUT) was greatest in the group who used the heated eye mask (-4.79 seconds), followed by the IPL alone group (-3.54 seconds) and control participants (0.44 seconds). This has a strong negative correlation with the change in TFLL scoring, which ranges from 1 to 5. The change in TFLL for the IPL+HEM group was 2.02, IPL was 1.02, and control groups was -0.58.
The change in corneoconjunctival staining (CS) score was also the highest in the IPL and heated eye mask group, followed by the IPL alone group, and the control group. The correlation between the change in CS and TFLL was significant. Similarly, the changes in meibomian gland quality (MGQ), meibomian gland expressibility (MGEx), and Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) scores were highest in the patients who underwent IPL and used a heated eye mask, followed by the IPL alone group, and the control group.
The researchers explain that “…by adding HEM to IPL therapy, this study successfully achieved liquefaction of the meibum and subsequently improved the TFLL participants in the IPL+HEM group.”
“The transfer of increased temperature permits unclogging of glandular obstructions as meibum is made more malleable and fluid, which can consequently be efficiently expressed,” according to the study.
Study limitations include that it did not include inflammatory indicators and osmolarity parameters which can monitor dry eye severity and the results cannot be generalized since the age range of the participants was between 20 and 40 years.
Li L, Chen J, Qin G, et al. Tear film lipid layer changes following combined effect of heated eye mask with intense pulsed light therapy for evaporative dry eye: A randomized control study. Photobiomodul Photomed Laser Surg. 2023;41(8):435-444. doi:10.1089/photob.2023.0051