Ocular damage secondary to intense pulsed light

Ophthal Plast Reconstr Surg.  2011 Jul-Aug;27(4):263-5.

Ocular damage secondary to intense pulse light therapy to the face.

Lee WW, Murdock J, Albini TA, O’brien TP, Levine ML.


Department of Ophthalmology, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA. wlee@med.miami.edu



To promote awareness and prevention of ocular damage that can occur during Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatments of the periocular areas.


A retrospective chart review was conducted of 2 cases involving ocular damage following IPL procedures that were treated at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for ocular complications. Routine data were collected during ophthalmic examinations.


Case 1: A 36-year-old female presented with eye pain, marked pupillary constriction, and anterior uveitis an hour after receiving IPL treatment to the face. Within 1 month, the damage had progressed to posterior synechiae and iris transillumination defects. She continues to have pain and severe photophobia due to permanent iris atrophy and transillumination that have persisted for years. Case 2: A 27-year-old female presented with severe eye pain, vision disturbances, pupillary defects, and anterior uveitis 3 days after IPL of an eyelid freckle. At 2 months follow up, the iris and pupillary defects remain permanent. The patient continues to suffer from photophobia and pain.


The pigmented iris absorbs light in the same wavelength range of IPL, thus remaining vulnerable to IPL exposure, especially when applied to the periocular area. The fact that IPL is not a laser may give people a false sense of security regarding damage to the eye. The cases presented give evidence that periorbital IPL treatment may permanently affect pigmented intraocular structures. It is imperative for treating physicians to be aware of these hazards and to use appropriate eye protection to prevent ocular damage.