IPL-RF Combination Effective for Dry Eyes in Small Study
PHOENIX – Combining intense pulsed light (IPL) with topical radiofrequency (RF) for dry eye disease related to meibomian gland dysfunction resulted in about a doubling of meibomian gland expression and improved meibomian quality in both upper and lower eyelids, results from an ongoing, novel study showed.
Dr James Chelnis
Dry eye disease affects a large proportion of people in the United States “and the factors that contribute to that are certainly not going away,” lead study author James G. Chelnis MD, said at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, where he presented the results during an abstract session. “Prepandemic, we used to have meetings in person; now most are on a computer screen,” a common risk factor for worsening dry eyes, he said. Telltale dry eye symptoms include blurry vision, irritation, and corneal damage – mostly caused by meibomian gland dysfunction – which impacts the quality and quantity of meibum secreted. Common treatments include warm compresses, doxycycline, and artificial tears.
While some studies have shown IPL is helpful in treating dry eye disease caused by meibomian gland dysfunction, little information is available on its use alone or in combination with topical RF to preserve and improve the function of meibomian glands, said Dr. Chelnis, an ophthalmic plastic surgeon in New York City. “The theory here is that the radiofrequency would be able to vibrate the water molecules inside the meibomian glands, which would allow you to turn over the meibum faster, as well as improve the blink reflex response by building supporting collagen,” he said. “Our novel study explores the ability of this combined modality treatment to improve upon meibomian gland health.”
Study design, results
Dr. Chelnis and his colleagues enrolled 11 individuals with a previous diagnosis of dry eye disease and meibomian gland dysfunction with Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI) survey scores higher than 23, which indicate at least moderate dry eye symptoms. Inclusion criteria were being 22 years of age or older, signs of meibomian gland dysfunction as detected by biomicroscopy, a modified meibomian gland score over 12 in the lower eyelid of at least one eye, and type I-IV skin.
All patients received four treatments (each 2 weeks apart) of IPL to the lower eyelid, surrounding malar region, and nose, followed by 7 minutes of topical RF treatments at 1 MHz and 4 MHz extending to the inferior, lateral, and superior orbital rim. Evaluation of meibomian gland expression and quality of meibum upon expression was conducted following each treatment session, with a final evaluation 4 weeks after the final treatment session.
Meibum quality was evaluated on a scale of 0-3 representing clear (0), cloudy (1), inspissated (2), and blocked (3) meibum, respectively.
Following treatment, meibomian gland expression and meibum quality improved in all eyelids in all 11 patients. Specifically, in the right eye, the number of upper lid expressible glands increased from an average of 13 to 27.9 and the number of lower lid expressible glands increased from an average of 14.6 to 28.2; and in the left eye, the number of upper lid expressible glands increased from an average of 13.3 to 27.3 and the number of lower lid expressible glands increased from an average of 14.8 to 26.8 (P < .001 for all associations).
The overall percentage improvement in meibomian gland expression in the right eye was 82.7% for the upper lids and 136.6% for the lower lids, and in the left eye, 82.9% for the upper lids, and 112.2% for the lower lids.
When comparing upper against lower lids, meibomian gland expression increased 124.4% and 82.8%, respectively. Meibum quality improved in all four eyelids, although upper eyelids displayed a superior improvement compared with lower eyelids.
“We are finding that combining IPL plus RF produces a more complete and comprehensive improvement in the quality of their meibomian gland health, and as such, their dry eyes,” with “a large decrease in their symptom profile,” he concluded.
More patients to be studied
Dr. Chelnis acknowledged certain limitations of the study, including the small number of patients, but he and his colleagues have added an additional clinical site to expand the sample size. “Larger scale studies are needed to evaluate long-term effectiveness of IPL plus RF as well as a comparison with other treatment options.”
During a question-and-answer session Mathew M. Avram, MD, JD, director of laser, cosmetics, and dermatologic surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, who served as one of the abstract session moderators, asked Dr. Chelnis to comment on what the mechanism of action of the IPL-RF combination in improving meibomian gland health.
“It’s not fully understood, but part of it is improved vascularity at the lid margin,” said Dr. Chelnis, who holds a faculty position in the department of ophthalmology at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. “Your ocular surface is sort of like your screen door; it catches everything that’s in the environment. An increase in vascularity and immunologic cytokines occurs in response to that. If you’re looking at the eye with a slit lamp, you can see a lot of vascularity that occurs at the lid margin and crowds the meibomian glands. When you decrease that crowding and immunogenic response, you move towards a normally functioning lid margin.”
Dr. Chelnis disclosed that he is a consultant to or an adviser for Lumenis, Horizon Therapeutics, and Soniquence.
This article originally appeared on MDedge.com, part of the Medscape Professional Network.
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